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Couple found dead in Woodside identified

Original post made on Aug 31, 2009

San Mateo County authorities have identified the deceased Woodside couple discovered on Aug. 27 in a home on Woodside Drive in the Woodside Hills neighborhood after what appeared to be a murder-suicide by handgun.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, August 31, 2009, 2:47 PM

Comments (30)

Posted by Local gurl
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Aug 31, 2009 at 4:33 pm

My condolences to their family members. What a sad story.

Posted by Allison
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 31, 2009 at 5:46 pm

Why is this a sad story?

I don't know the details, but we should keep open our minds about a dignified choice. Should this couple have been forced to await the death panels' choices for them? California does not allow assisted suicde, like Oregon does. What is the appropriate dignifed exit allowed to California people? Maybe we should be honoring this couple, instead of doubting them.

Posted by Alison
a resident of Southgate
on Aug 31, 2009 at 7:13 pm

I totally agree w/ Allison!

Posted by neighbor
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 31, 2009 at 8:40 pm

I think it's sad that their illnesses caused them so much suffering that they did this. Or that they may not have had the kind of social or palliative support to live comfortably in spite of their illnesses.

My condolences to the family.

Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 31, 2009 at 8:40 pm

I agree with the above. We all need choices.

Posted by qq
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 31, 2009 at 9:40 pm

Another dignified checkout.

Web Link

EMC Co-founder.


Posted by YSK
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 1, 2009 at 1:43 am

I think it's awesome they got to choose! Now they are at peace.

Posted by George
a resident of another community
on Sep 1, 2009 at 12:17 pm

They are not at peace, they are dead. As someone who has lost a relative to a handgun suicide, I am pretty sure that their family is not at peace. The image of a parent taking a gun to their spouse, and then him/herself, will likely haunt this family for years to come. There has to be a better way. People who commit suicide leave a legacy that is long-lasting and emotionally damaging to their loved ones.

Posted by mae
a resident of Menlo Park
on Sep 1, 2009 at 1:49 pm

I agree with George. ...emotionally damaging especially to grandchildren.

Posted by AgreeWithAllison
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 2, 2009 at 3:05 am

"Should this couple have been forced to await the death panels' choices for them?"

I wouldn't be surprised if these poor people had already heard from their Private Insurance Company "death panels", and discovered just how they would be denied sufficient insurance coverage or charged prohibitively exorbitant rates due to their ages and/or conditions. My dad died last year of various health issues, and while he had always been and was still insured, it is disgusting what the Private insurance companies decided not cover or demanded in amounts in premiums to cover (but "oops", NO "pre-existing conditions" allowed!) far beyond what our family could afford.

Otherwise, I am terribly sorry for this couple that they felt they had to end their lives in such a manner. My condolences to their family(ies), and may they have finally found some respite and peace.

Posted by anon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 2, 2009 at 10:16 am

Enough with the death panel lies, and then the phony supporting comments. There are not death panels, how clueless and uninformed can you possibly be, or how dishonest?

Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 2, 2009 at 11:44 am

My kids have just lost a grandparent who was aged and had been ill for sometime. They are very sad of course and ask a lot of questions about death. They are also very aware about suicide due to the recent events in our community. That also sparked a lot of questions about death. They are very relieved that their grandparent lived a long and happy life and left it the way nature intended without any help from themselves or anyone else. I would have hated to have had to explain to them if these people were their grandparents.

Suicide is always sad, regardless of the reason, for the family left behind. I think the family of these two must be in great sadness and my condolences to them.

Posted by anon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 2, 2009 at 11:50 am

Why is this a sad story?

Let me see, who would want to have to shoot someone and then themselves as their last moments of life? What a horrible way to have to go out of this world, and what a horrible memory to leave for your your family, friends and neighbors.

I can't believe someone would ask that question. I agree that people should be able to make these decisions for themselves, and their relatives when the relative is not able, but having to shoot someone seems a bit drastic and horrible.

Who would want to live in a house where this happened? There are all kinds of considerations here that a little thought would answer why this is horrible. Yes, taking one's own fate into one's hands has an upside, but who knows what really went on here?

Posted by Allison
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 2, 2009 at 12:32 pm

I believe we adults should have the choice of dignity to check out of this world, when our suffering is too great, or our prospects too much to bear. Handguns are not the preferred way for many of us, however we are forced to use messy methods, because our state does not allow us the dignity to die by assisted suicide.

I would love to have my family surrounding me, including my grandchildren, should they choose, on my last day, and to say goodbye with dignity, in peace.

Posted by Final Exit
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 2, 2009 at 12:57 pm

Edward Downes and his wife provided an example of a better alternative.

Web Link

Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 2, 2009 at 2:43 pm

Since when is murdering someone and then shooting one's self a great exit? Suicide isn't pretty and even in the elderly it's often more about depression than it is about the reality of the situation.

How do we know that the murder victim wanted to be killed? Or hadn't been coerced into a form of acquiescence? How do we know that there wasn't a history of emotional abuse.

Let's not sentimentalize what happened here. As George points out, the repercussions for the rest of the family are long-lasting and destructive. This was a violent act and I pity deeply the person who found them.

Posted by Allison
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 2, 2009 at 3:19 pm

Mercy killing is a much better choice of words for the spouse that pulled the trigger, twice. It is not murder, if both wanted to go. I remember reading a haunting story about the San Francisco earthquake, in which a trapped man was begging to be shot, becasue the fires were approaching. He preferred to be dead quickly and immediately, instead of burning to death slowly. Nobody wanted to shoot him, because it would be "murder". Fianlly, some stranger came by, pulled out his pistol and shot him in the forehead. Is this stranger a murderer?

Voluntary death with dignity is what I wish to see.

Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 2, 2009 at 7:45 pm


How do you know? Did you know the couple? Were you a fly on the wall so that you know that this was a lovely, hunky-dory situation involving guns, murder and suicide?

Again, don't sentimentalize suicide. Don't romanticize it.

Posted by Allison
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 2, 2009 at 8:45 pm

""There's indications that it was a planned event," Lunny said, noting that the couple had sent an explanatory letter to one family member, who then contacted the Sheriff's Office"

No, I was not a fly on the wall. However, if the note indicated that it was planned, then the couple should be given the dignity to end their lives on their own terms. They should be forced to choose a gun to do it. They should be given the option of assisted sucide with drugs.

May I ask why you think you should dictate terms to them?

Posted by Allison
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 2, 2009 at 8:50 pm

...they should NOT be forced to choose a gun... Bad ommission on my part. Sorry.

Posted by Letting Go
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 2, 2009 at 9:42 pm

Here is what I don't understand when it comes people wanting to interfere with an adult's wish to die - the usual argument is that it isn't natural, their family loves them or "there's so much to live for". What if someone says, "I just don't like being here on Planet Earth. I love my family and they do likewise - but it just isn't enough to hang around any longer. The so much to live for stuff is really for other people and what they find important or fulfilling - but that stuff doesn't matter to me. I know that this point of view may hurt my family's feelings - but hanging around just fulfill other people's wishes or ideals of life does not matter to me. Time to move on to another life..."

Who are we to say that their beliefs are wrong? It may not be how you feel or might be society's belief (or religion's belief) of what is normal, but in a free society it seems we should force our "normals" onto others.

Posted by Letting go
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 2, 2009 at 9:46 pm

Typo in last sentence. We should NOT force our "normals" onto others.

Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 3, 2009 at 1:29 am


That the murder was premeditated doesn't make it better. Nor does it rule out the possibility of a less-than-beautiful past.

And no one forced them to choose a gun. There are other means of suicide that are available. They--or rather one of the couple--almost certainly the husband--chose a violent death. Again, you're sentimentalizing something without knowing what really happened because you have preconceptions.

Letting go,

Suicide is *very, very* hard on the survivors. It hurts other people, it doesn't occur in a vaccuum. It's usually *not* a rational act. It is very, very possible in this case that there was untreated depression or being overwhelmed on a practical level.

And we force our "norms" on one another all the time--that's how we manage the "society" part of free society. Or are you okay with murder, theft and rape?

Posted by Letting Go
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 3, 2009 at 1:08 pm

First - realize I'm being a devil's advocate here.

Death of a family member is going to take it's toll any way it happens. But part of my point is that a family is being selfish in "requiring" that the person lives on - even though they don't want to any longer.

Suicide may be hard on the survivors - but what about the person that they want to stay alive for what is clearly their benefit, not the person who wants to check out? Forcing someone to live-on even they don't want to - who is hurting who now?

Is it clinically depressed or is it rationale, logical, unemotional evaluation of one's life and its prospects?

In other words - paraphrasing of course - "Even though I'm tired of this world and just don't want be here --- I have to stay alive because other people will be upset otherwise. So I'll lead a miserable life for another 30 years so someone won't get upset over my early death."

Theoretically - if you just don't want to keep going to work everyday, keep paying the bills and taxes, you're kids are out of the house, you've grown tired of the rat race, you don't want to live on the dole or be a burden to someone else - why can't you just stop and get off the treadmill? If you explain this and don't leave a financial burden, square everything away before your death --- what does it really matter?

"But there's so much to live for"...maybe for you or me, but there are people who can't stand the holidays, don't want to be a grandparent, don't take walks on the beach at sunset, don't marvel at birds flying south, etc. Why should we force them to do things that they don't want to do?

It may not be normal for most of society, but it's plausible.

And please - don't twist my thoughts/ideas and go to the "murder, theft and rape" card. We're talking about suicide.

Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 3, 2009 at 1:15 pm

Letting Go,

I assure you that suicide takes a very particular toll. If you're going to play devil's advocate, you might do a little research.

Much of what you say could be used by a much younger person to rationalize youth suicide. Given what's been going on around here, I find it thoughtless and foolish.

Please actually learn something about clinical depression and the effects of suicide on survivors.

Start getting real.

Posted by Allison
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 3, 2009 at 3:12 pm

If my elderly father, whom I love with all my heart, comes to me and says, "can we move to Oregon so that I can get assisted suicide", I would do all im my power to assist him. I, my husband and my children, if they wish, will be next to him when the drip line starts. He deserves that dignity. Nobody has a right to talk about "clinical depression" when a full life has been lived, and there is a rational desire to end it on one's own terms. That is not depression.

If we can achieve assisted suicide in California, as in Oregon, dignity will be the winner. Many people do not think that living on pain killers, with no prospects for improvement, is a future that they want.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 3, 2009 at 3:46 pm

This is a bigger question than seems to have occurred to many. Allison's scenario above is just a small side of the issue. Another side is what has recently happened in Britain when a perfectly well individualy decided to join his wife in suicide since she was ill, but he was not and could have had a productive life. This story is in the web link provided above. The fact that this couple's children were in agreement that they should both die in fact asks further questions.

How about a scenario when an individual is in an expensive care facility and the children don't want their inheritance frittered away. Should they be allowed to make a decision which could be more financial than loving?

How about a scenario where an individual has alzheimer's, or parkinsons and can't make the decision. Should the family be allowed to play "God"?

How about all the businesses that would suddenly start making money on a law like this, the fact that seriously ill people from all over the world started arriving to pay a hurrendous amount of money to a company only too willing to take it from them to provide a dignified death? This is happening in Europe.

For any legislation to be allowed, there will always be those who try to bend the law for their own ends. Then of course, there are situations where family members disagree, or law suits, or ...

This is a really big question and some countries are trying to come to terms with it, but there are always situations which come up that were never envisioned when the law was first thought of.

Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 3, 2009 at 8:03 pm


Again, you're sentimentalizing. You don't know what the situation was behind this murder/suicide. And, apparently, the loss of a parent is something you've yet to experience.

Or did your father shoot your mother?

And, yes, we certainly *do* have the right to discuss it and consider the possibility of clinical depression which is all too common in the elderly.

Suicide is infectious. The suicide of a parent makes suicide more likely in the children and grandchildren. And there's no guarantee *at all* that that suicide will be at a time when *you* consider it to be appropriate. The suicide of a loved one is a form of abandonment--losing someone to death is terrible enough (and I've lost both of my parents)--but the rejection of suicide and the sense of powerlessness it invokes is highly destructive.

You talk as if suicide has no emotional repercussions for the survivors. That's dangerously naive.

The case that Resident describes sounds pretty grim--codependency at its finest. But even without bringing in the controversy over euthanasia, I've got an issue with cheering on murder.

Posted by Allison
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 3, 2009 at 8:18 pm


I only know that this mercy killing was announced, ahead of time, to one of the children. It is very presumptuous of you to assume that this was not a rational and decent liberation from suffering. Your deep dark views are not shared by many people.

Posted by anon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 5, 2009 at 1:00 am

There is just something very weird about a couple that chooses to use a gun to end their lives - announced or not. The idea of the mess, and the violence and the chance of missing or a mishap and causing pain or prolonged suffering is crazy - at least for me in my opinion. It's not my life, but this was one person taking the life of another. It's just not right.

Why not use the technology. Did they have a doctor available to consult? Forget a fly on the wall, this is not a happy occasion. But since we do not know the particulars of the situation its hard to comment on. I just find it very sad. I would not like to say to my children that Grandpa shot Grandma and then himself because they did not want to live anymore.

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