US

A Couple Found Dead in an Apparent Murder-Suicide Was Struggling to Afford Health Care, Authorities Say

By Wire Service Content

After an elderly couple in Washington state was found dead in an apparent murder-suicide, investigators said they found notes suggesting the pair was struggling to pay medical bills.

Brian Jones called 911 on Wednesday morning and told the dispatcher he was going to shoot himself, according to the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office. The 77-year-old said he had prepared a note for the sheriff containing information and instructions and told the operator, “We will be in the front bedroom.”

Deputies arrived about 15 minutes later and a crisis negotiator tried to contact Jones for about an hour, the sheriff’s office said, before deputies sent in a robot-mounted camera. Jones was found dead lying next to his wife, Patricia Whitney-Jones, 76.

Authorities said they believe Jones shot his wife, and then himself.

Several notes left behind cited Whitney-Jones’ “severe ongoing medical problems” and expressed concerns that the couple “did not have sufficient resources to pay for medical care,” investigators said.

“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,” Sheriff Bill Elfo said in a statement. “Help is always available with a call to 911.”

One note also contained information about the couple’s next of kin, the sheriff’s office said. “Numerous” firearms were seized, and two dogs found in the house were taken to an animal shelter.

CNN is reaching out to the couple’s family for comment.

Spending on health care for the elderly in the U.S. has been increasing for decades.

“Personal health care spending for people ages 65 and older was nearly $20,000 per person in 2014, more than five times higher than spending per child — $3,749—and nearly three times as much as adults ages 19 to 64,” according to BuzzFeed News.

If you or someone you know is at risk of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 for free and confidential support 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

2019 CNN Trademark