NEWTON -- An 86-year-old man used a knife in what authorities described today as a murder-suicide, fatally stabbing his 86-year-old wife in the neck before cutting his own throat.
The Wyman family home. (Wendy Maeda/Globe Staff)
Police found the couple dead early this morning, lying in the same bed in the white, wood-shingled Colonial on a tree-lined side street where they have lived for many years. Investigators found a note near the bodies of Jane Cooper Wyman and William Wyman that made it clear what occurred, authorities said.
"We believe that this was a murder-suicide and that Williams stabbed his wife and himself," said Lieutenant Bruce Apotheker of the Newton Police Department.
The husband apparently telephoned a relative early this morning and advised them of the plan. The relative called police about a possible murder-suicide, and officers responded to 290 Woodland Road at 5:30 a.m.
Police forced their way into the home and found the couple. The husband used a knife with a 3-inch blade, Apotheker said.
Police had previously responded to the home near Lasell College last Thursday for a wellbeing check. No additional information was available about the call, including who asked police to check on the couple.
Police have never responded to the home for domestic violence or any other type of criminal activity, Apotheker said. The killings disturbed the quiet neighborhood, which is just off Route 16.
William Wyman helped lead neighborhood opposition to the expansion of Lasell College, fighting in particular to preserve a clump of trees on Woodland Road. He worked in the insurance industry and was an accomplished drummer, according to a neighbor who would not give her name. Jane Cooper Wyman excelled on the piano, the neighborhood said.
Another neighbor, John L. Vaccaro, said he had lived next door to the couple for 24 years and knew them well enough to exchange pastries at Christmas. Vaccaro said he spoke to William Wyman by telephone on Sunday about the city's new trash collection system.
"It was just pleasantries," Vaccaro said. "He seemed like himself."
William Wyman suffered from some serious health problems, Vaccaro said, but he did not know specifically what ailed him.
"Obviously, I'm shaken up about this," Vaccaro said. "They were good neighbors, very good neighbors. We’re going to miss them. I never thought anything like this could happen."
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