LEWISTON -- An elderly couple suffering from terminal cancer died Friday after the husband shot his sleeping wife and then himself in what was described as a double "mercy killing."
John O. Jacoby and his wife, Betty B. Jacoby, both 73, were found dead at about noon in their North Fourth Street home by a nurse who came to check on them, Village Police Chief Ron Winkley said.
Jacoby apparently took his .22-caliber sawed-off rifle and shot his wife in the temple, Winkley said. He then sat in a nearby bedroom chair and shot himself in the forehead, he said.
Both were suffering from terminal cancer, Winkley said. Mrs. Jacoby was confined to bed, and her husband also suffered from severe emphysema.
"I'm calling this a mercy killing," said Niagara County Coroner Steven A. Gerhardt. "It's a case of murder-suicide, but it's really a mercy killing."
"They were both ill, and he (Jacoby) has been giving hints to his family that he might do something like this," Gerhardt added.
"He didn't say it directly, but he used other ways of saying he was going to do it sometime in the future."
Gerhardt said autopsies at DeGraff Memorial Hospital in North Tonawanda showed that both deaths were caused by gunshots to the head, with Jacoby suffering a self-inflicted gunshot.
The shootings appear to have occurred at about 10:30 or 11 a.m., according to Gerhardt and Niagara County Sheriff's Investigator John Koelle.
Winkley said Jacoby apparently had owned the rifle most of his life.