Family copes with murder-suicide

Published 3:05 pm Saturday, July 11, 2009

BOYKINS, Va. – A sick elderly man’s regret over his inability to take care of his ailing wife caused him to shoot her to death and then turn the gun on himself, family members said Friday.

Edward Lee Everett Sr., 70, who felt he was terminally ill, shot his 71-year-old wife, Queen Esther Everett, on Thursday in a bedroom at their home while she slept. He then took his own life.

Southampton County (Va.) Detective Cpl. Richard Morris said a call was received through the dispatch center at 11:52 a.m. and law enforcement officers arrived on the scene at 12:10 p.m. He said the couple had apparently died from gunshot wounds and that a weapon was recovered from the scene.

“He didn’t want to put her in a nursing home,” said Helen Vincent, wife of the slain woman’s brother, Sherman Vincent. “He couldn’t take care of her and he took her with him.”

The bodies of the couple were discovered by a nurse who came in daily to help the Everetts, Sherman Vincent said.

“She heard the last shot,” he said, shaking his head.

Vincent said the couple were high school sweethearts and had a loving relationship, even as Everett became permanently blind three months ago and his wife battled the final stages of Alzheimer’s Disease.

“He did everything he could for her. He took care of her, even after he was blind,” Vincent said.

The couple had been married since 1958. Their faded marriage certificate was framed and hung on a wall at the house, a photo of their son as a young boy tucked in the corner.

Helen Vincent said, “He loved her and she loved him and the family doesn’t have any hard feelings about this. He just took her on with him. That’s how we feel.”

Everett was retired from Narricot Industries where he worked for nearly 30 years before retiring 18 years ago. He was a deacon at Rising Star Baptist Church in Branchville, Va.

Edward Lamont Everett Jr., the couple’s only child, said Everett was a tall, soft-spoken man who called his wife “honey.”

“They had a good relationship,” he said.

Everett recently moved back into the family’s small brick ranch home on Number 8 Schoolhouse Road to keep an eye on his parents.

He said he didn’t notice that his father was suicidal, though he would often voice concerns about not being alive for much longer. The elderly man also fretted aloud about being able to care for his wife, who was slipping further into her disease.

“All she did was sleep and walk,” their son said. “I stayed here last night. I kept expecting to see her walking out the bedroom door.”

Sherman Vincent said he expected the bodies to be returned Friday from the medical examiner’s office in Norfolk, Va.

Hood Funeral Home in Conway is in charge of funeral arrangements.

(Jena Passut is Managing Editor of the Tidewater News in Franklin, Va., a sister publication of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald.)