DELTONA, FL (AP) – A 75-year-old man fatally shot himself while deputies were visiting his house to conduct a welfare check on his wife, and he left behind a hand-written suicide note saying he had buried her in the backyard, authorities in Florida said Wednesday.
Laurence Caulfield admitted that he killed his wife in the note, and officials were searching the yard for her body, the Volusia County Sheriff’s department said in a news release.
Deputies visited the home in Deltona, northeast of Orlando, Tuesday night after an out-of-state relative reported receiving a letter from Caulfield that said he was having a difficult time coping physically and emotionally as his wife suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, the release said. The relative told detectives that she hadn’t spoken to the couple in months.
Caulfield included with the letter the couple’s will, life insurance policy and other financial documents, the sheriff’s department said.
“He also has guns in the house, and I’m concerned,” the caller told dispatchers, according to the sheriff’s office. “The way it’s been written is a concern, a strong concern.”
Deputies went to the house and spoke briefly with Caulfield, who told them his wife suffered from Alzheimer’s and he had moved her to Kansas City to stay with friends of the family.
When deputies asked how they could get in touch with her, he told them to call his daughter in New Jersey, who had the information, the sheriff’s office said in a news release.
Caulfield went back inside the house while deputies called the daughter, who said she knew nothing about her mother moving to Kansas City. Deputies grew concerned and began knocking on the front door but no one answered, the sheriff’s office said.
Deputies then heard a shot from the back of the house and found a wounded Caulfield with a shotgun by his side. He was taken to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead.