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Elderly Man Commits Murder-Suicide Because Their State Health Care Assistance Programs Were Cut

An aging couple who were married for 71 years were found dead in October by a relative who went to check on them. The husband killed his wife and then himself in an apparent murder-suicide. Family members believe the extreme action was taken because they lost state benefits that helped them pay for medication after a program was cut.

Harold Masten, an 88-year-old man from Delaware, shot his 89-year-old wife, Helen. He then turned the gun on himself. The couple were married for 71 years and their grieving family wondered what could have led Harold to do such a devastating thing. Their five children are struggling to make sense of the loss.

When asked about why her father shot her mother and himself, daughter Louise Amick told reporters, "We don't know.... We're hoping to get some sort of closure from the medical examiner's report that there was something going on medically that we didn't know about."

One hint to Harold's reasoning may be found in an interview the couple did in August with The News Journal. They told the journal they were worried about the state eliminating a $1.6 million program that helped low-income seniors pay for over-the-counter and prescription drugs they need.

During the interview, Harold, a retired auto mechanic, said they might not be able to buy a new heater for their house because the cost of their monthly medications had increased so much. Helen needed prescription eye drops to treat glaucoma.

Under the Delaware Prescription Assistance Program, she was only paying $25 for her medication. After the program was eliminated in August, it would cost the couple $150.

The Delaware General Assembly said the number of residents who were taking advantage of the program had tapered off over the past few years. By 2020, they said they didn't expect the program to be needed anymore. The cuts went into effect in August. Harold blamed the Assembly for putting the couple in such a tight spot.

Since August, the couple were struggling with the new expenses that took a huge bite out of their Social Security check. People who relied on the program were assisted with about $3,000 per year to help pay for the cost of medication.

On October 19, a relative went to bring them breakfast and check in on the elderly couple. The house was locked, and the worried relative called for help to gain entry. The two bodies were found in the bedroom.

It’s not clear at this point if their current financial strain caused them to make a murder-suicide pact, or if it caused Harold to snap and shoot his wife and himself. Police are investigating and haven’t yet released any information on motives or details surrounding the scene of the incident.

In the obituary, the family asked that in lieu of flowers, mourners make donations in memory of the couple to Delaware Veterans, Inc., the couple's favorite charity.

Source: Daily Mail
Photo: Facebook, Delaware Online

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