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Deputies Respond to “Murder-Suicide”

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UMPQUA, Ore. — The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office continues to investigate what it is calling a murder-suicide after a husband killed his wife, then took his own life. But family members say both were terminally ill.

Deputies say Dennis Black, 60, of Umpqua, killed his wife Linda Black, 59, then killed himself. On Monday evening, the Sheriff’s Office received a call from a relative of the couple, saying they were dead. KEZI 9 News spoke with family members on Tuesday, who say they were both terminally ill. Pam Phelps, Dennis’s sister, says he had prostate cancer, and that Linda had a neurological auto-immune disorder. Phelps says soon, Linda would not have been able to swallow or use her arms or legs.

“I had a good relationship with them, said Dennis McKay, one of their neighbors. “They were real close with their mom. And they seemed real close with each other.”

Relatives say the Blacks were high school sweethearts, and had made a pact to leave this world together.

Deputies say they are wrapping up the case since there is no one for them to prosecute.

2 comments

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  1. Steve Scarich says:

    I have the feeling that most of us are going to say something like ‘well, I guess it’s OK what happened, because they both had a terminal illness and wanted to die together’. But, Oregon has a Death with Dignity law and, if they truly had terminal illnesses, they could have gone that route. I don’t want us to become a society where violent solutions to life’s problems becomes the norm. I’m not wanting to cause upset to the family, but we need to look more seriously at incidents like these and not just accept that it is OK.

  2. Joanne Holland says:

    Agree, we here in Oregon have a right to Death with Dignity. However, something like this happens because people are not able to talk about these things with a sympathetic person who will not interfere with their decision. With Death with Dignity, the process requires two physicians who know the conditions, and agree with the diagnosis and helplessness of the problems to sign off on it. It is hard to get two diseases to become terminal at the same time. I doubt there would be two physicians who would agree this couple could die together. Just think about who you would talk about this “Death with Dignity” decision to, and then let us hope none of us comes to the point to which this couple came… May they both have peace.

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