Man charged in wife's shooting death in Bloomfield

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A 79-year-old man recently diagnosed with terminal cancer told his wife that he didn't want to live moments before he fatally shot her Thursday night in their Bloomfield home before trying to kill himself, Pittsburgh police said.

Phillip Willett has been charged with homicide in the death of his wife, Catherine Willett, also 79. Police believe the handgun jammed when he tried to shoot himself.

Martha Villani, Ms. Willett's sister, told police they and another sister were on the first floor of the home in the 4600 block of Rosina Way on Thursday night when they heard Mr. Willett "banging around" upstairs.

Ms. Willett went to check on her husband and Ms. Villani said she heard the two arguing. She heard Ms. Willett say, "don't do that," "why are you doing this?, I love you" and "please Phil, I love you," police wrote in a criminal complaint.

Ms. Villani said she then heard Mr. Willett say, "I am in so much pain" and "I don't want to live anymore."

Then, while sitting on the bed, he pointed a gun at his wife and fired one shot, Ms. Villani told police.

Officers responded around 8:25 p.m. to find Ms. Willett lying on the floor with a gunshot wound to the head, according to Lt. Kevin Kraus. She died at the scene.

The two other people who live at the home weren't hurt, police said.

Contrary to some reports, police found no evidence that Ms. Willett had any significant health problems.

"It looks like he knew that he was close to death and he made the decision to take her with him," Lt. Kraus said.

Police took Mr. Willett to West Penn Hospital after the shooting and he was discharged a short while later. Police took him to the bureau's North Side headquarters but could not question him because of his medical condition, which was severe enough that the Allegheny County Jail would not take him, the lieutenant said.

He was taken to UPMC Mercy, where he remains guarded by police.

In response to this fatal shooting and another in Knoxville on Thursday night, Mayor Bill Peduto said in a prepared statement, "I have been in constant contact throughout the evening with Public Safety Director [Michael] Huss. We have committed all resources toward holding the actors accountable and stopping this cycle of violence that is plaguing our community."


Lexi Belculfine: lbelculfine@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1878. Twitter: @LexiBelc. Molly Born: mborn@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1944 or on Twitter @borntolede. Staff writer Liz Navratil contributed. First Published January 23, 2014 10:08 PM


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