Elderly Texas couple found dead in suspected murder-suicide

Police are still piecing together details from a heartbreaking crime in Houston, Texas. When a local man arrived at the Harris County home of his elderly parents on Wednesday evening, he was greeted by a nightmarish scene that no son should ever have to witness.

In the backyard of their home located on the 900 block of Pear Tree Lane, a married man and woman in their 70s were discovered dead from apparent gunshot wounds in what law enforcement officials are investigating as a murder-suicide.

A son’s worst nightmare

Authorities believe that the husband shot and killed his wife with a single round before turning the gun on himself.

A gun was reportedly discovered near the man’s body.

The adult son who discovered his dead mother and father immediately called 911. Detectives from the Harris County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) is currently investigating the deaths.

HSCO spokesperson Jason Spencer revealed that the woman was suffering from health problems, providing clues about a possible motive in her suspected homicide. Police have also said that the couple had been married for decades and raised their children from the Pear Tree Lane home.

“They were longtime members of this community,” Spencer said. “They had lots of friends. We’re all saddened by this news.”

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Elderly epidemic

According to the Violence Policy Center, murder-suicides among elderly victims have increased from 21 percent in 2002 to 25 percent in 2011 among all murder-suicides in the U.S. In states like Florida, where many older Americans go to retire, a murder-suicide occurs once every two weeks on average, and some sources estimate that across the country as many as 20 elderly adults die in this manner.  

Experts who study this grisly phenomenon caution that these deaths are not generally an act of compassion or a loving suicide pact among lifelong companions and should not be romanticized.  

Speaking to the Kansas City Star, University of South Florida professor Donna Cohen said that the typical case includes a controlling husband who kills his ailing spouse without permission before taking his own life.

The murder-suicide in Houston appears to satisfy these conventional attributes, although it is difficult to know with certainty what happened pending further details from law enforcement. This case bears a remarkable resemblance to a Margate, Florida murder-suicide that occurred just last week.

In the latter case, an 84-year-old man was discovered laying on his bedroom floor with a gunshot wound to the head and with his gun beside him. His 66-year-old wife, however, was shot while she was laying in bed, indicating that she was the likely victim in the disturbing homicide.

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