Elderly Floridian cannot afford medicine, kills suffering wife

An elderly Florida man was in jail on Thursday after he said he fatally shot his ailing wife because her medications were no longer affordable and she was in pain.

William J. Hager, 86, was being held without bond in jail after telling responding authorities on Monday that he had shot his wife, Carolyn, in the head as she slept that morning in their home in Port St. Lucie, according to an arrest affidavit released by the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office.

Hager called the 911 emergency line at 1 p.m., several hours after the fatal shooting, the affidavit said. Hager told authorities that after the shooting he went to the kitchen for a cup of coffee, and called his daughters to tell them what he had done.

“I want to apologize I didn’t call earlier. I wanted to tell my kids what happened first,” Hager told authorities, according to the affidavit.

Hager told authorities that he had been thinking of killing his wife, 78, for several days because she was in pain, the affidavit said. While she had told him that she wanted to die in the past, she never asked him to kill her, according to the affidavit.

A dispatcher at the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office said Hager remained in jail on Thursday on a charge of first-degree, premeditated murder after an initial court appearance on Tuesday.

Hager could not be immediately reached on Thursday evening and it was not immediately clear if he had an attorney.

Local broadcaster WPTV reported that the couple had filed for bankruptcy in 2011 and that Carolyn Hager had been suffering from severe arthritis and other medical issues for 15 years.

The AARP, a non-profit advocacy organization for people 50 years and older, said in a report last November that increasing costs for certain specialty prescription drugs have put them out of reach for many people and that Medicare does not necessarily make those drugs affordable.

Authorities did not say what specific drugs Carolyn Hager was taking nor what kind of insurance the couple may have had.

A search of records at the Florida Department of Law Enforcement does not show a prior criminal history for William Hager.

(Reporting by Curtis Skinner in San Francisco; Editing by Sharon Bernstein and Sandra Maler)

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