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Saanich man stabbed his wife, then killed himself

Apr 04 2012
The bodies of Erich Mueller and Kathy Mueller are removed from their house in January 2011. At the time, police wouldn't say how the couple died. 

The bodies of Erich Mueller and Kathy Mueller are removed from their house in January 2011. At the time, police wouldn't say how the couple died.

Photograph by: Lyle Stafford , timescolonist.com

More than 14 months after a murder-suicide in Cadboro Bay, a B.C. Coroners report confirmed that 72-year-old Erich Mueller stabbed his wife, Kathy Mueller, 66, and then turned the knife on himself.

The report, released Tuesday, said Erich Mueller struck his wife on the head and stabbed her with a large kitchen knife before stabbing himself in the throat on Jan. 18, 2011, in the couple's beachfront home.

Saanich police made the rare and highly criticized move of not disclosing how the couple died or who was responsible for the deaths, which is standard procedure for violent crimes.

The department said they were respecting the family's wishes. Friends of Kathy Mueller were outraged, however, saying they wanted her name cleared.

Erich Mueller left documents to help the family deal with his affairs. He also left a note stating "he could not allow his spouse to be left to deal with what he saw as the serious financial problems," the report said.

Erich Mueller began to suffer from depression in 2008, after he was diagnosed with a paralyzed vocal chord that prevented him from singing in a choir, a great passion of his. He was placed on anti-depressants and appeared to be recovering. In September 2010, he relapsed into depression after he stopped taking his medication.

"Both the family physician and psychiatrist noted that Mr. Mueller was unable or unwilling to share details of his feelings with them, making it more difficult for them to assess him accurately or treat him successfully," the report said.

Erich Mueller had started to show signs of dementia and became stressed about financial issues he thought were more serious than they were. The day before the murder-suicide, his doctor referred him for dementia testing.

A family member found the bodies and called the Saanich police.

The couple had been married for 40 years with no history of domestic abuse. Erich Mueller was a civil engineer who at one time worked for the city of Prince George. Kathy Mueller was a teacher who taught in China and in the remote B.C. First Nations community of Gingolx.

The coroners report said murder-suicides among older couples often happen despite the couple having no history of domestic abuse, which is not the case with younger couples. "The primary motive is more often the suicide, rather than the homicide," the report said.

Older, Caucasian men are at a higher risk of suicide than younger men, but they are less likely to reach out for help, the report said.

It said physicians need to recognize the signs of depression in older men and manage the risk before the person takes drastic action.

The Coroners Service plans to forward the report to the B.C. College of Physicians and Surgeons for educational purposes.

kderosa@timescolonist.com

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