According to family members, the couple were high school sweethearts and had been married for 47 years

By Harriet Sokmensuer
May 06, 2019 03:03 PM
Credit: Facebook

A man in Florida fatally shot his ailing wife before turning the gun on himself in a murder-suicide, according to multiple reports.

On Wednesday afternoon, Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to a 911 call made by a man who said he’d killed his wife and was about to take his own life, the Florida Times-Union reports.

When authorities arrived at the home from which the call was made, they were unable to make contact with anyone inside. After forcibly entering, they found the man and his wife dead of gunshot wounds in their bedroom.

While officials have not identified the couple, family members identified them as John Elbert Thombleson and Gwendolyn Kay Thombleson, WJXT and First Coast News report.

According to family members, the couple were high school sweethearts and had been married for 47 years.

Gwendolyn’s health had been declining over the last few months and after a surgery eight months ago, she had developed several health conditions, including dementia.

John’s family said he killed Gwendolyn out of love, calling what happened a “mercy killing” — a characterization Gwendolyn’s family seemed to echo, First Coast News reports.

• Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Click here to get breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases in the True Crime Newsletter.

Gwendolyn’s sister said she knows John loved her sister.

“I want everyone to know this incident was not a domestic dispute. Johnny Thombleson loved my sister Gwen with all his heart,” she said in a written statement to First Coast News. “Johnny became her 24/7 caretaker. Their lives were destroyed and he could no longer bear to see her suffering. He did this with a broken heart and knew he could not live without her. A tragic end to a true love story.”

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text “home” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to