Thursday, April 26, 2012

Wilkes-Barre, PA: W-B officials investigating apparent murder-suicide

WILKES-BARRE - Law enforcement officials are investigating an apparent murder-suicide that involved an 82-year-old woman fatally shot in the parking lot of a nursing home where she lived.

Mildred Welebob was pronounced dead about 11 p.m. Friday by Acting Luzerne County Coroner William Lisman. She was shot once, and the coroner has ruled her death a homicide. She was found in the parking lot of St. Luke's Villa in Wilkes-Barre.

Officials said Mrs. Welebob's husband, Chester Welebob of Wilkes-Barre Twp., had arrived at the nursing home Friday to take her outside in her wheelchair as he did almost every day.

But the couple did not return as expected Friday night. After Mrs. Welebob was found, officials began looking for Mr. Welebob.

Eventually, they found him in a field behind the old Wilkes-Barre Twp. High School, near his Wilkes-Barre Twp. home. He was pronounced dead at 12:15 a.m., also of a single gunshot.

Assistant District Attorney Jarrett Ferentino said the investigation into the murder-suicide was still open Saturday. Wilkes-Barre police officer are investigating the case.

"It's a very, very unfortunate situation. It appears to be a murder-suicide of an otherwise loving couple who were elderly," Mr. Ferentino said. "The husband visited her regularly, really cared for his wife, that's what people are saying to us.

Investigators will try to determine a motive by interviewing family members and retracing Mr. Welebob's steps. "You try to ascertain the circumstances, but it's difficult because both parties are deceased," Mr. Ferentino said.

St. Luke's Villa administrators were not available for comment Saturday, an employee said. Officials from the Diocese of Scranton, which owns the villa, are cooperating with authorities in the investigation, said diocese spokesman Bill Genello.

Counselors from the Family Service Association will be available for staff members Monday, and diocese officials will review the incident, Mr. Genello said.

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