A 78-year-old man who lives in the retirement community of Sun City is accused of fatally shooting his wife Wednesday morning.
Maricopa County Sheriff's deputies initially proposed that it could have been a "mercy killing" of a terminally ill spouse, which would be the second one in Sun City in the past year. However, court documents describe a killing that doesn't seem to provide much "mercy" for the victim.
According to court documents obtained by New Times, MCSO deputies responded to the 911 hang-up at 78-year-old Howard Rudolph's Sun City home just before 9 a.m. Wednesday.
Rudolph had left the keys outside the door, so deputies let themselves in. When they asked Rudolph where his wife was, he pointed to the bathroom.
Deputies found his wife's dead body in that bathroom, and Howard told the deputies, "I had to do it," according to the booking sheet.
"Howard stated he felt terrible and that he just could not take it anymore," records state. "Howard never admitted to murdering his wife; however, he made multiple remarks that he just couldn't take it anymore.
Rudolph reportedly told deputies he also left a letter for his attorney, leaving instructions to cremate "the bodies" and what to do with his estate.
And he's said to have made an admission to killing his wife while talking, within earshot of a deputy, to a doctor on the scene who was recording the conversation.
"The deputy recorded the statement in which Howard tells the doctor that he killed his wife and that he also went overboard with his drinking during today's morning," records state.
Investigators believe Rudolph shot his wife multiple times with a .38-caliber revolver.
In the kitchen, investigators found a bottle of Southern Comfort, as well as the gun, which had a note underneath it.
". . .[The note] read something to the effect of 'I do love her, money goes to shelter, she is so hateful, I can't stand her any longer,'" the probable-cause statement says.
Rudolph admitted to writing that note, says the Sheriff's Office.
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While Rudolph was booked into jail on a charge of first-degree murder, court documents indicate that the evidence hasn't been completely processed.
It seems like quite a different case from the 2012 "mercy killing" in Sun City, in which a man named George Sanders killed his wife -- apparently at her insistence -- due to her fear that she was going to die in a nursing home for a variety of ailments. Although Sanders was initially booked on a first-degree murder charge, he pleaded guilty to manslaughter, and was sentenced to probation.
Rudolph's bond has been set at $750,000.