Couple found dead in Death Valley after apparent murder-suicide, officials say

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Couple found dead in Death Valley after apparent murder-suicide, officials say

File photo of a road in Death Valley National Park. Officials say an older couple was recently found dead after an apparent murder-suicide in the park.

File photo of a road in Death Valley National Park. Officials say an older couple was recently found dead after an apparent murder-suicide in the park.

James O’Neil/Getty Images

An older married couple from Las Vegas were found dead in Death Valley National Park last week after an apparent murder-suicide, officials said. 

Officials from various Inyo County law enforcement departments responded to a call from Paul Fischer, a 73-year-old Las Vegas resident, on Jan. 13, the National Park Service wrote in a press release. Fischer reportedly told the 911 operator that he had just killed his wife, 72-year-old Mary Fischer. He then stated that he intended to kill himself and told the operator where they were. 

Law enforcement officials from the Inyo County Sheriff’s Office, Inyo County Coroner Office, the National Park Service, California Highway Patrol and the Bureau of Land Management responded, and found the couple deceased. Paul Fischer had left a note inside the couple’s vehicle that explained that his wife had chronic health conditions, according to the press release. 

A desire to “relieve the victim” of illness or disability is one of the leading motivations behind domestic murder-suicides, according to the FBI. Disability rights advocates argue that the framing of domestic murder-suicides as “mercy killings” dehumanizes the disabled person while romanticizing the actions of the perpetrator.

Killings are a rare occurrence in Death Valley. The first homicide in the park to take place in modern memory happened along the eastern edge of the park in 2020, the Los Angeles Times reported. 

If you are in distress, call the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline 24 hours a day at 988, or visit 988lifeline.org for more resources.

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