Whatcom sheriff’s deputies investigating elderly couples’ deaths as murder-suicide

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An elderly couple were found dead in their home near Ferndale early morning Wednesday, Aug. 7, in an apparent murder-suicide, according to a press release from the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office. Several notes left at the scene suggest the couple couldn’t afford medical care, the release states.

At 8:23 a.m., sheriff’s deputies responded to the 6500 block of Timmeran Lane after a 77-year-old man called 911 and told the dispatcher “I am going to shoot myself,” the release states. The man told the dispatcher he had prepared a note for the Sheriff with information and instructions. The dispatcher tried to keep the man on the line, but he disconnected.

Deputies arrived 15 minutes later, at 8:38 a.m., and set up a perimeter around the house. A crisis negotiator tried to contact the occupants of the home with a phone and a megaphone for around an hour.

Deputies then 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 found dead from an apparent gunshot wound, according to the release.

Next of kin information was left in a note and detectives are currently working with out-of-state law enforcement to notify family members. Pending notification, the couple’s identities were not released.

Crime scene investigators are working the case as a likely murder-suicide, the release states. Several notes were left citing severe, ongoing medical issues with the wife.

“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,” Sheriff Bill Elfo said in a prepared statement.

Two dogs were also found inside the home and were turned over to the Whatcom Humane Society for care. Numerous firearms were also impounded, the release states.

Reporter Denver Pratt joined The Bellingham Herald in 2017 and covers courts and criminal and social justice. She has worked in Montana, Florida and Virginia.