Thomas Ballenger, Mississippi husband shoots dead wife of 40 years in possible mercy killing after she suffered a debilitating stroke last month.
A Mississippi man has been charged with murdering his wife of more than 40 years after shooting her dead at a nursing home where she’d been staying after succumbing to a stroke last month.
Thomas Bailey Ballenger, 70, of Clinton, was arrested late Tuesday after police responded to a call at the Woodlands Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center, where Rebecca Ballenger, also 70, was found dead, Clinton Police Department spokesman Mark Jones told via the nypost.
Following the shooting, Ballenger- a retired firefighter surrendered to nurses and staff while admitting he’d just shot his wife multiple times with a revolver in what authorities believe may have been a ‘mercy killing.’
‘He was a fixture by her side,’ Jones told via the nypost. ‘He was a doting husband. He was there by her side caring for her needs, patiently sitting by her side since her stroke.’
Ballenger remained jailed without bail at the Hinds County Detention Center, where he’s being held in a cell outside general population, Jones said.
‘He’s in a secluded cell, being monitoring constantly,’ Jones said, adding that Ballenger had not made any statements indicating that he wished to harm himself. ‘We want to take every step we can to protect him.’
Ballenger made his initial court appearance Wednesday- where he asked for a public defender.
Thomas Ballenger and his wife were each other’s shadows:
‘This is the saddest crime I’ve ever worked,’ Clinton police Lt. Josh Frazier told via the Clarion Ledger.
Frazier said Ballenger’s wife had a stroke and told her husband that she didn’t want to live in a diminished capacity. The couple had been married for more than 40 years and Thomas Ballenger was depressed in the aftermath of his wife’s stroke last month.
There were no reports of an altercation or disagreement between the Ballengers prior to the shooting, WJTV reported.
Told Frazier, ‘They were each other’s shadows. They cared for each other a lot. But there is some indication the victim said she did not want to live like that.’
Staffers at the facility are reeling in the aftermath of the fatal shooting, police said.
‘They are all in shock,’ Frazier told the station. ‘We spoke to nurses last night. They got to know the Ballengers over the last month. Knew them as good people — both of them. This is a tragic situation for all parties involved.’
Officials from the Jackson Fire Department issued a statement expressing their condolences after the killing.
‘To the family of Thomas and Rebecca Ballenger, this family has suffered a great loss,’ the statement to WJTV read. ‘On behalf of Fire Chief Willie G. Owens and the entire Jackson Fire Department, we are so very sorry for your loss. Our condolences and prayers are with the entire family at this time.’
Of note, mercy killings are not allowed in most states, including Mississippi law. However, withholding or withdrawal of “life-sustaining” measures may be permitted in some circumstances.