Man who fired multiple rounds at his wife says she begged him to end her life after suffering a stroke
70-year-old Thomas Ballenger was charged with murder and denied bond in the shooting death of his wife Rebecca at the Woodlands Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center
A Mississippi man has been accused of shooting and killing his wife of 40 years in what authorities believe was a "mercy killing." 70-year-old Thomas Ballenger was arrested by the police after firing multiple rounds at his wife at a rehab center in Clinton, with an officer commenting that this was "the saddest crime" he's ever worked on.
According to the Daily Mail, Ballenger told the investigators at the Clinton Police Department where he was taken to that he had shot and killed his 70-year-old wife Rebecca because she had suffered a stroke recently and told him that she didn't want to live like that anymore.
Rebecca was found dead from multiple gunshot wounds at the Woodlands Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center this past Tuesday, December 11, with dramatic footage captured at the scene showing Ballenger being arrested by officers after initially surrendering to nursing staff outside his wife's room.
The Clinton Police Department was called to scene on reports of gunshots fired at the nursing home. Commenting on the incident, the department's Lt. Josh Frazier was quoted saying by WJTV, "Officers arrived and immediately located the suspect. The victim is being identified as 70-year-old Rebecca Ballenger."
The department said that Ballenger had been apprehended without any altercation and that it was found that he had shot his wife with his 38 caliber revolver. Frazier conceded that the 70-year-old's assertion that he had killed his wife because she had asked him to do so may be true.
"They were married," Frazier said. "They were each other's shadows. They cared for each other a lot. But there is some indication the victim said she did not want to live like that."
Ballenger had been married to his wife for 40 years and she was a patient at the nursing home when she suffered her stroke. Clinton police said that the 70-year-old would often visit his wife and had become a familiar face to the nursing staff at the facility.
"They are all in shock," Frazier said about the clinic workers. "We spoke to nurses last night. They got to know the Ballenger's over the last month. Knew them as good people. Both of them. This is a tragic situation for all parties involved," adding that it was "the saddest case I've ever worked."
But the nursing home workers are not the only ones devastated by the shooting. Ballenger is reportedly a retired Jackson firefighter with a long history of service in Hinds County, and the news of his killing of his wife has left the Jackson Fire Department equally bewildered.
A statement released by the department read, "To the family of Thomas and Rebecca Ballenger, this family has suffered a great loss. On behalf of Fire Chief, Willie G. Owens and the entire Jackson Fire Department, we are so very sorry for your loss." Our condolences and prayers are with the entire family at this time."
Ballenger has been charged with murder in connection to the shooting and has been denied bond. A judge is expected to visit him in custody.