Victims of Murder-Suicide, Police Say : Elderly Couple Found Dead in Home

Times Staff Writer

An elderly couple were discovered dead in their Garden Grove apartment by their daughter-in-law Friday morning, apparent victims of a murder-suicide, police said.

Dewitt Meitzler, 78, and Corraine Meitzler, 73, were discovered at about 10 a.m. when a daughter-in-law stopped by to see the couple at their Alwood Avenueapartment. Dewitt Meitzler had apparently shot his wife, then turned the gun on himself, according to Police Sgt. Bruce Beauchamp.

A handgun was found near the bodies, Beauchamp said.

The daughter-in-law, Leona Meitzler of Garden Grove, told police the couple were in poor health and that Mrs. Meitzler had recently been diagnosed as suffering from an inoperable form of cancer. They had been married 57 years and had three sons, two living in Garden Grove and the third in Chicago.

The deaths were the fifth murder-suicide in Orange County since last July.

In another case, an elderly Garden Grove man allegedly shot his invalid wife Jan. 19 but told police he then dropped the gun and was unable to lift it and turn it on himself due to his own health problems. Jay McFadden, 64, faces a preliminary hearing April 7 on murder charges in the death of his wife, Gladys, 63.

Such cases are generally so rare that no county statistics are kept, a coroner's spokesman said.

The recent murder-suicides began July 16 of last year, when an elderly Anaheim man shot his wife in their mobile home and then committed suicide. The woman suffered from Alzheimer's disease.. About a month later, an El Toro man who had been caring for his wife, a victim of Alzheimer's disease, shot her and then himself in the bathroom of their home.

On Aug. 28, a 77-year-old man shot his wife while she lay sleeping on their bed and then took his own life in the backyard of their Fullerton home. The woman had been undergoing chemotherapy for a brain tumor.

On Oct. 31, a Brea man, who had been caring for his wife after she suffered a crippling stroke, shot her twice and then killed himself with a single shot from a .38-caliber revolver.

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