The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Couple dead in apparent murder-suicide left notes saying they couldn’t afford medical care, police say

(Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
Placeholder while article actions load

A Washington state couple whom authorities believe died by murder-suicide reportedly left several notes expressing worry that they could not afford treatment for the wife’s severe medical issues.

The husband, 77, called 911 shortly before 8:30 a.m. Wednesday and told the dispatcher that he planned to shoot himself, the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement. The man said he had written a note for the sheriff with information and instructions.

The dispatcher tried to keep the caller on the phone, according to authorities, but the man said, “We will be in the front bedroom” and hung up.

Sheriff’s deputies arrived at the house near Ferndale about 15 minutes later and tried to contact the residents with a phone and a megaphone for about an hour, authorities said. They said deputies then used a robot-mounted camera and saw the couple, who were dead from gunshot wounds.

Why one family mourning El Paso victims chose to meet with Trump

The couple has been identified as Brian S. Jones and Patricia A. Whitney-Jones, 76, Whatcom County Medical Examiner Gary Goldfogel told The Washington Post. Jones shot his wife once in the head, then himself three times, Goldfogel said.

Authorities said they impounded several guns from the home and brought two dogs to the Humane Society 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,” Sheriff Bill Elfo said in a statement. “Help is always available with a call to 9-1-1.”

Health-care spending in the United States has been increasing for decades, and costs for senior citizens are higher than those for citizens as a whole, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Anxiety complicates life for dementia patients — and their caregivers

An average of $18,424 per person was spent on medical care for people ages 65 and older in 2010 — five times the spending per child and three times the spending per working-age person, a report from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services says.

Democratic presidential hopefuls say Medicare-for-all would be less expensive than the current health-care system. But it's not that straightforward. (Video: Atthar Mirza/The Washington Post)

Roughly 65 percent of senior citizens’ medical costs are paid for through government services such as Medicare, which covers almost all seniors, and Medicaid, which covers low-income people and families. Health-care expenses more than double between ages 70 and 90.

If you or someone you know needs help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255). You can also text a crisis counselor by messaging the Crisis Text Line at 741741.

Read more:

A man wrote on Facebook that AOC ‘should be shot,’ police say. Now he’s in jail.

Outback Steakhouse told a family to leave because their special-needs son was being too loud

Climate change isn’t an intangible future risk. It’s here now, and it’s killing us.