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‘I couldn’t stand to see her suffer any more’

South Boston NewsSouth Boston News
Jack Brown and his late wife, Jeanette
SoVaNow.com / February 01, 2018
Investigators who questioned 80-year-old John Frederick “Jack” Brown after the fatal shooting of his 74-year-old wife Jeanette were told by the suspect that “I couldn’t stand to see her suffer any more” and used a gun to take her life.

The claim, voiced by Brown during a jailhouse interview with authorities on the day of the shooting, has prompted the Halifax County Sheriff’s Office to request medical records for Mrs. Brown to see if she was approaching death or so ill that her life might have been intolerable.

Under Virginia and federal law, so-called mercy killings are not recognized as a justifiable cause to take a life. Brown has been charged with two felonies — second degree murder and use of a firearm in commission of a felony — that combined could carry a prison sentence of up to 43 years.

Jeanette King Brown, 74 was laid to rest at McKendree United Methodist Church in Halifax on Saturday. Her surviving husband remains incarcerated at Blue Ridge Regional Jail in Halifax without bond as he awaits a Feb. 12 bond hearing in Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court in Halifax. Jack Brown is currently being represented by the Public Defender’s Office.

The probe into the shooting is being handled by Halifax County Sheriff’s Investigators Jeff Burton and Sam Edmunds.

There is no debate over whether Brown shot and killed his wife at the couple’s Hendricks Road home on the morning of Jan. 22. The question at the heart of the investigation is “why.”

In addition to reviewing Mrs. Brown’s medical records, investigators are awaiting the results of an autopsy and are in the process of locating and speaking with family members.

Investigator Burton, who provided the account of Brown’s confession, which he made during an interview at Blue Ridge Regional Jail on Jan. 22, said he knew the suspect long before he was called out to the Liberty-area home for a murder investigation. Burton recalled having breakfast with Brown on a couple of occasions and thinking that he was “a nice old man.” Burton said he does not remember Brown ever mentioning his wife.

Cases where defendants claim they took the lives of loved ones to end their suffering regularly surface all over the country.

One such case occurred in Charlotte, N.C. in June 2016. As reported by The Charlotte Observer, a man and his ailing wife, both suffering from Alzheimer’s, created a suicide pact whereby both would end their lives. Suicide notes were found in the house for each of them. The husband shot his wife, but did not kill himself. He is awaiting trial on a charge of first-degree murder.

A second similar case occurred in Elizabeth City, N.C. in December 2016. According to reports in The Virginian-Pilot, a husband shot his wife to death rather than put her into an assisted living facility as a result of Alzheimer’s. Although a grand jury acquitted him, the district attorney may try again for an indictment.

After the Feb. 12 bond hearing, Brown’s next appearance in court is scheduled March 7 at 9 a.m. for a preliminary hearing in domestic relations court.



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