Rick Bella

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Murder-Suicide Desperation Prompts Soul-Searching in Oregon

by Rick Bella 04-17-2012

For the past few years, Terry Daniel Sr. and Lisa Haynes used good cheer to camouflage their deteriorating health and dwindling finances. They kept up running jokes with neighbors. Their easy banter made them popular at their mobile home park's annual picnics.

But about 10 months ago, their problems finally overwhelmed them. Haynes, 55, saw her epilepsy rage out of control, resulting in seizures so violent that she injured her neck and was forced into a rehab facility. Daniel, 60, was debilitated by a life of hard labor, and had began using a walker full time. That was hard on both of them because he was Haynes' caregiver.

Feeling desperate and out of choices, they planned a final exit together, police said, and made a recording to explain their reasons. On Feb. 12, Daniel shot Haynes and then himself. Haynes died as planned in their mobile home near Milwaukie, Ore., but Daniel survived a gunshot wound to the chest. He may have ended her suffering, but he turned his own life upside-down, tripping legal and social dominoes that haven't yet settled.

Daniel immediately confessed to police. As soon as he was released from the hospital, he was charged with murder, spawning discussions in health and legal circles about how two very poor people with disabilities found themselves in such desperate circumstances.

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