A Florida man charged with first-degree premeditated murder told authorities that he fatally shot his wife because the couple could no longer afford to pay for her costly medication.

William J. Hager, an 86-year old resident of Port St. Lucie, was found by authorities on the afternoon of May 16 in the home that he shared with his wife, Carolyn Hager, after dialing 911 to report the crime and to turn himself in. After he was taken in to the county precinct, Hager proceeded to tell respondents that he had murdered his her due to the fact that they could “no longer afford” to treat her many “illnesses and other ailments[,] which required numerous medications.”

As The New York Times reported:

...Carolyn Hager, 78, had been ill for the last 15 of the more than 50 years they were married. The cost of her medications had become so burdensome that they could no longer afford it, he said. So on Monday morning while she was sleeping, he shot her in the head, he told the deputy who came to their Florida home.

[...]

When a deputy sheriff arrived at the Hagers’ house Monday afternoon, Mr. Hager told him, “I have bad news,” according to [an] affidavit. Ms. Hager’s body was propped up with pillows in a bed, covered with a blanket.

Mr Hager had killed her at 7:30 a.m. while she was asleep, according to the affidavit. He placed the gun, a Colt .32 revolver, on a dresser, went into the kitchen of their home and drank coffee, and then called his daughters to tell them what he had done before calling 911 in the afternoon.

According to an affidavit filed by the sheriff’s office, Carolyn Hager had spent the time leading up to the homicide in considerable pain, which prompted her husband to consider shooting her several days prior to the incident. Hager also told authorities that “while Carolyn [had] told him in the past that she wanted to die, she [had] never asked him specifically to kill her.”

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All though multiple reports mentioned that Ms. Hager “had severe arthritis and other health issues,” a list of her medications could not be released to the public due to privacy laws. The article also noted that the Hagers had previously filed for bankruptcy in 2011, and that Mr. Hager had at one time taken on a part-time job at Sears to pay for his wife’s medical needs.

As of now, it is not known whether the couple were covered by private health insurance or Medicaid.

NYT also cited a recent report released by AARP, which found that “chronic conditions such as Parkinson’s disease and rheumatoid arthritis come with huge price tags”; statistics showed that these drugs “had an annual cost of therapy of more than $10,000"—which can be a dooming millstone for senior citizens relying on social security checks, other pensions, and if their lucky, retirement savings. (To put it in perspective: according to data compiled by the U.S. Social Security Administration, the median household income of the 65-and-older demographic in 2012 was $28,506, with a median net worth of $27,300, barring home equity.)

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“The prices of these products have gotten so high that it’s putting them out of reach for people who need to take them,” said AARP’s Public Policy Institute director of health services research Leigh Purvis, who also coauthored the study. “They have no means of staying healthy.”


Contact the author at jamie.reich@jezebel.com.

Image via the Port St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office.