Couple Made Murder-Suicide Pact Because They Couldn't Afford Health Care

Brian shot his wife before turning the gun on himself.

Who Are Brian Jones And Patricia Whitney-Jones? New Details On Couple In Murder-Suicide Pact Because They Couldn't Afford Their Health Care Facebook

An elderly couple is dead in an apparent murder-suicide in Washington State. Brian Jones shot his sick wife Patricia over the weekend before calling 911 to tell authorities that he was going to kill himself. He told them where in the house he would be then hung up, even as the dispatcher was trying to talk him out of suicide. He didn't mention that his wife was already dead.

When officers got to their house, they found both of them in bed, dead of gunshot wounds and a number of notes explaining that they could no longer afford their medical care.


Who Are Brian Jones and Patricia Whitney-Jones? And why did they feel they had to die?

1. The 911 call 

According to a statement from the Whatcom County Sheriff's Office, a 911 call came in around 8:30 am on August 7. A man told the dispatcher than he was going to shoot himself. The press release goes on to say "He indicated he had prepared a note for the Sheriff with information and instructions. The dispatcher attempted to keep the caller on the line without success. The man disconnected the call after saying 'We will be in the front bedroom.'"


Police press release on the situation.

2. Trying to save a life

Officers responded to the home of the caller in a matter of minutes. hoping they could prevent a tragedy. Because the caller had indicated specifically that he planned to use a gun, they treated the situation seriously, setting up a perimeter around the house and proceeded with extreme caution. The press release says "A crisis negotiator attempted to contact occupants of the home via phone and loud hailer for about one hour. After an hour, Deputies deployed a robot mounted camera." 

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3. Terrible scene inside

The camera showed police that there were already two dead people inside the house. The man who had called earlier was dead after suffering several gunshot wounds, including one to the head. His wife lay beside him, also dead from a gunshot wound to the back of her head. They were identified as Brian Jones, 77 and his wife Patricia Whitney-Jones 76. Police then began the task of locating their next of kins to share the devastating news. 

4. Notes left behind

When police entered the home, they found a number of notes explaining what had happened, just as Brian Jones had said on the 911 call. One of the notes contained information about contacting the couple's family about their death. Another note explained why they had died: Patricia had been ill, though the exact nature of her illness hasn't been revealed, and the costs of her care were mounting significantly. The couple was no longer certain they could pay for the care that they needed.  

The notes told a tragic story.


5. Kept their problems hidden

Neighbors of the couple were surprised to hear of their deaths and the reasons behind them. Neighbor Sherrie Schulteis told the Lynden Tribune: "[Brian and I] were always waving and talking about our yards or our flowers. It’s a little tiny community where we all know each other, but we don’t really know each other.” She says she and the rest of the neighbors are "dumbfounded" by their deaths. There was no mention of whether the couple had children who would be affected by their death. New reports say there were two dogs in the home and they have been transferred to a shelter. 

Health care costs keep rising.


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6. Rising health care costs

The cost of health care is a perpetual problem in America, with senior citizens facing some of the most difficult situations. Buzzfeed News notes that In 2014, seniors accounted for only 15% of the population but approximately 34% of all health care expenditures, based on figures from the US Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Personal health care spending for people ages 65 and older was nearly $20,000 per person in the same period, which is nearly three times as much as spending for a person between 19 and 64 years old. The out-of-pocket share of costs that seniors must pay averaged $2,925 per person for people 65-84 and  $5,925 per person for those 85 and older.

Reports have not revealed what kind of health issues the Joneses were facing or what the cumulative cost of their care was doing to their financial situation. But as the Whatcom County Sherriff Bill Effo noted: “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 9-1-1.”


Rebekah Kuschmider has been writing about celebrities, pop culture, entertainment, and politics since 2010. Her work has been seen at Ravishly, Babble, Scary Mommy, The Mid, Redbook online, and The Broad Side. She is the creator of the blog Stay at Home Pundit and she is a cohost of the weekly podcast The More Perfect Union.