Theodore R. Peterson, 47, was charged with homicide before he died from his injuries

By Tara Fowler
Updated July 30, 2015 03:35 PM

A Wisconsin father allegedly killed his disabled son, then committed suicide himself after learning that he faced a change in respite care for the 16-year-old, authorities said.

On July 21, Theodore R. Peterson, 47, sent his wife a text saying he was taking his son Maxwell for a walk, then slit the teen’s throat and shot himself in the head with a nail gun, WISC reports. Police found a knife at the scene, according to CBS News.

Peterson did not die right away. He was taken to University of Wisconsin hospital after a passerby stumbled on him and his son on a park trail.

Officials went so far as to tentatively charge Peterson with homicide on July 22, but he ended up dying from his injuries, according to The Wisconsin State Journal.

Maxwell had various developmental disabilities and was diagnosed with a rare neurological disorder known as Angelman syndrome, which can require lifelong care.

However, the Peterson family was facing a change in the respite care given to their son. Respite care provides short-term relief for caregivers from the responsibility of taking care of their loved ones with special needs.

Investigators said that change might have been the motive for the killing, though they did not elaborate on the nature of the change.

In a statement through the Dane County Sheriff’s Office on Friday, the Peterson family thanked family, friends and officials for their support.

“Max was truly an angel who brightened everyone’s life that he came into contact with and Ted was a loving husband and father,” the statement read. “Both will be missed greatly.”

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