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Murder-Suicide In Small-Town Berlin Heralds Growing Trend

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The town of Berlin, Md., is still in a state of shock after an apparent murder-suicide claimed the lives of an 89-year-old man and his 90-year-old wife.

Lester Wright and his wife Ada had been together since high school, and they had lived in the picturesque little white house on a quiet street in Berlin since 1965.

When Bill Todd and Krista Valliant moved in next door, the elderly couple, who had never had children of their own, quickly took them under their wing.

“They were they were just the sweetest old people," Todd says. "We got along great, just good salt of the earth people."

But investigators believe the couple had planned to end their lives in this way together. They say Lester shot his beloved wife twice in their home last Wednesday morning, before turning the gun on himself three times.

But while the community is mourning this tragedy as a Romeo and Juliet type of love story, the details seem to lend themselves to a larger issue.

A 2012 report from the Violence Policy Center (PDF) says that 25 percent of murder-suicides in this country involve elderly people, and because of the country’s aging baby boomer population, experts predict the numbers will continue to rise.

The study says illness and loss of personal freedom can often lead to such a harsh act, and in the case of the Wright’s, they both had some health issues, and were about to settle on the sale of their longtime home and move into an assisted living facility.

But whatever the reason, Krista Valliant says she still can't wrap her head around what has happened.

“They just had this secret connection, like a bond," she says. "I just felt there was always something special with them and I just knew they had decided to do it together."

Krista and Bill say its going to take a long time to process this tragic ending to what they call an otherwise beautiful love story. And despite their grief, they say they were lucky enough to witness that love story everyday, in the little white house with the pick fence right next door.

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