FERNDALE, Wash. (Gray News) - Authorities say the deaths of an elderly couple in Washington, who left behind notes “expressing concerns” about paying for medical care, are being investigated as a likely murder-suicide.
According to the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office, deputies responded Wednesday morning to a home near Ferndale, Wash., after receiving a call from a 77-year-old man, who told the dispatcher, “I am going to shoot myself.”
The dispatcher tried to keep the man on the line, but he hung up after saying, “We will be in the front bedroom.”
Deputies arrived at the house and spent about an hour trying to contact anyone inside. When they received no response, they deployed a robot-mounted camera.
The man was found dead from an apparent gunshot wound. He was lying next to his 76-year-old wife, who was also dead from an apparent gunshot wound.
The couple has been identified as Brian Jones and Patricia Whitney-Jones, The Washington Post reports.
Detectives are investigating the case as a likely murder-suicide, according to the sheriff’s office. Several notes cited ongoing medical problems with Whitney-Jones and concerns that the couple would not be able to pay for care.
“It is very tragic that one of our senior citizens would find himself in such desperate circumstances where he felt murder and suicide were the only option. Help is always available with a call to 911,” said Sheriff Bill Elfo in a statement.
Healthcare costs for senior citizens are higher than those for the average citizen, and these expenses can more than double between ages 70 and 90, The Washington Post reports. About 65 percent of senior citizens’ medical costs are paid for through government services such as Medicare and Medicaid.