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Elderly suspect in Medford murder-suicide dies before case can go to trial

The Jackson County District Attorney's Office says that James Wheeler died on March 12, and the case has been dismissed.

Posted: Mar 25, 2021 2:07 PM
Updated: Mar 25, 2021 5:59 PM

MEDFORD, Ore. — Charges against a Medford man accused of killing his wife before trying to kill himself have been dropped after he died in an adult foster home earlier this month.

Deputies from the Jackson County Sheriff's Office responded to a home in the 2000-block of Judy Way in Medford on January 11 after the discovery of two people with gunshot wounds. Joanne Wheeler, 87, was found dead, but 88-year-old James Wheeler survived an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the neck. He was taken to Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center for treatment.

Investigators concluded that James Wheeler had shot his wife before turning the gun on himself.

According to the DA's Office, Wheeler later waived his Miranda rights and was questioned by detectives. He admitted to planning the murder-suicide over the course of several days "due to the couple's poor physical health." Wheeler said that he'd discussed the plan with his wife, but did not think she was seriously considering it.

"When asked if his wife wanted to continue living, Mr. Wheeler indicated that he believed she did want to live," the DA's Office said.

Wheeler was indicted on a single count of Murder in the Second Degree on January 14, and was kept in the custody of an adult foster home. The DA's Office said that he died on March 12, spelling an end to the prosecution. The case has been dismissed.

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