FERNDALE — An elderly couple was found dead early morning Wednesday, Aug. 7, in their home near Ferndale. The case is being investigated as a likely murder-suicide by detectives and investigators, according to a press release from the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office.
The couple was identified as Brian S. Jones, 77, and Patricia A. Whitney-Jones, 76, by Whatcom County Medical Examiner Gary Goldfogel. The couples’ next of kin have been notified, according to Whatcom County Sheriff Bill Elfo.
Brian called 911 at 8:23 a.m. and told the dispatcher “I am going to shoot myself,” according to the press release. He told dispatchers he had a note prepared for the sheriff with information and instructions.
Deputies arrived at the 6500 block of Timmerman Lane approximately 15 minutes later at 8:38 a.m. After an hour of attempting to contact Brian through a crisis negotiator at the scene, deputies deployed a robot-mounted camera and found him dead from an apparent gunshot wound, according to the press release. His wife, Patricia, was also found dead from an apparent gunshot wound lying next to him.
Several notes were left at the scene expressing concern of not being able to afford medical care for ongoing health issues with Patricia, according to the press release. Information for next of kin was also left in a note.
Sherrie Schulteis, who lives on the right side of the eight-house street, said she and Brian frequently talked to one another and watched out for each other’s homes, but that she never knew how much he and his wife were struggling. She said the rest of the neighbors on the street are “dumbfounded” by their deaths.
“[Brian and I] were always waving and talking about our yards or our flowers,” Schulteis said. “It’s a little tiny community where we all know each other, but we don’t really know each other.”
In the press release, Elfo said help in desperate times is always just a 911 call away.
“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,” he said in the press release.
Suicide prevention resources are available at the National Alliance of Mental Illness Whatcom County. Hotlines to call include the Compass Health Crisis Prevention/Intervention Team: 1-360-752-4545; and the National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255.