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Man says he killed cancer-stricken wife to end suffering

By Bruce Schreiner & Dylan Lovan

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 12:14 p.m. HST, Aug 29, 2013

LONDON, Ky. » A Kentucky man called 911 just minutes after killing his wife, sobbing and confessing to a dispatcher that he fatally shot the cancer-stricken woman, and asking to take a last look at her before his arrest, according to recordings released today.

Ernest Chris Chumbley, 48, cries throughout the 16-minute call placed around 2:30 a.m. Wednesday and says he shot the woman twice in the face with a .32-caliber handgun in their southeastern Kentucky home. He said in a jailhouse interview after the shooting that he shot his wife to end her pain from terminal breast cancer.

"Give me police, I'm under arrest," Chumbley says on the call.

Chumbley has pleaded not guilty to a murder charge and is being held in jail on a $200,000 bond. He is being kept in a single isolation cell, which is monitored continuously by video, Laurel County Jailer Jamie Mosley said this afternoon.

Police found 44-year-old Virginia Chumbley's body in the bedroom when they arrived.

Defense attorney Kelly Ridings said today that it was too early in the case to comment. Chumbley has a court hearing on Tuesday.

Chumbley left the gun in the bedroom and told police he was unarmed. He told the 911 dispatcher that his wife was a cancer patient and was supposed to go to the doctor the next day.

"Two shots, that's all I did to her," he said.

Near the end of the call, he asks the dispatcher if he can go to his wife's body in the bedroom, but he is told not to move.

"Can I go see her? I want to go see my wife," he said, but then agreed not to go to the bedroom.

Chumbley told WKYT-TV from jail that his wife wanted him to end her pain, and he told her he could offer her "what the doctor gave you."

"She said 'No, I want you to stop my pain for good,'" Chumbley told the news station. Mosley said Chumbley has declined further interviews from the jail.

Neighbors in the small subdivision near the Appalachian foothills said that the husband and wife were a happy couple, but that Virginia Chumbley's cancer had taken a harsh toll in recent years.

"They seem like a normal family. We were just all shocked that it happened," said Cheryl Cobb, who lives next door.

Stan Campbell, another neighbor, said the couple loved each other dearly. But the cancer put a strain on their lives, and the Chumbleys filed for bankruptcy in 2009.

"In my opinion, I think she might have talked him into doing that because she was hurting so bad," Campbell said. "She was in real bad shape. I know she was hurting."

Neighbors awoke to police lights, and some saw Chumbley being led away in handcuffs.

"He had a lot of pressure on him," Campbell said. "He loved his wife so good he would do anything for her."

Dylan Lovan reported from Louisville. Associated Press reporter Brett Barrouquere in Louisville also contributed to this report.

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Maneki_Neko wrote:
So sad. There has to be someway for folks to choose death with dignity. In many ways you could call this man a hero but I'm sure that won't be the opinion that flies around the internet. As a makule buggah myself I would hope somebody would do this for me if I were terminal with unbearable pain.

I don't what the law will say but if it is justice we seek, just let him go home.

on August 29,2013 | 12:58PM
Eradication wrote:
My question is, did she leave a note or video explaining what she "wanted"? If not, how does anyone know for sure? Everything left is hearsay and not likely to hold up in court (I'm not a lawyer). Note to self: Leave a video before asking someone to do the deed...Doesn't get them off the hook but I'm sure it helps. This country needs a Death with Dignity law.
on August 29,2013 | 01:09PM
I think in this case there will be enough neighbors and witnesses to her cancer and the pain she endured to bascially say the same thing a note would have been able to do. You're right, it doesnt dismiss the death.
on August 29,2013 | 01:14PM
ryan02 wrote:
I agree. Nobody but the person themselves can decide when the pain is too much for them to bear anymore. Not a politician, or a priest, or even a doctor. I think people should be allowed to die with dignity. As it is, we allow people to kill themselves by refusing food and water, but that's a terrible way to force someone to die. We don't even put down dogs at the human society in such a cruel way. Society needs to enact death with dignity laws.
on August 29,2013 | 01:31PM
Grimbold wrote:
If his version is proven true he should not be convicted. This tragedy is the fault of bad laws that do not allow death with dignity if one is terminal and suffering.
on August 29,2013 | 07:48PM
Mei mei wrote:
Heartbreaking and sad... god bless them both ~
on August 29,2013 | 01:02PM
Carang_da_buggahz wrote:
My heart goes out to this man and to all others who are trapped in such an intolerable, terminal situation. Makes me thankful for my good health and that of my loved ones.
on August 29,2013 | 01:49PM
Grimbold wrote:
If I was in that situation I would wish to have the courage to do the same thing.
on August 29,2013 | 07:50PM
llpof wrote:
But why did he have to shoot her twice in the face? Disfiguring someone's face usually indicates hostility.
on August 29,2013 | 01:56PM
cojef wrote:
Hard to tell if that was the case, further the neighbors all indicated that they loved each other. I don't think, I could take another's life, even my own wife. That's just me. Death with Dignity should need to be considered. Of course, the ACA may come to that automatically if health coverage is rationed due cost consequences. That is my greatest fear that it will come to pass, single payment plan, Government run health care. With private insurance, one can elect to get the best care possible. That is not possible, maybe only the congressional staff and their bosses, represrentatives and senators, the vice president anf family, and of course the President and his family.
on August 29,2013 | 04:22PM
SteveToo wrote:
Let the poor guy go! He hurts enough already.
on August 29,2013 | 04:34PM
paradiddle wrote:
Tragic story. However, unless she was so ill and unable to "die with dignity" by herself, it was unfair for her to place the burden on her husband and put him in such a position. JMHO.
on August 29,2013 | 06:53PM
CartwrightPark wrote:
What a tough situation. God be with them...
on August 30,2013 | 08:19AM
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