Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Possible Suicide Pact May Lead to Charge

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Possible Suicide Pact May Lead to Charge

Article excerpt

By all appearances, Ed and Wilma Jean Friday had as much as any aging couple could reasonably expect: a comfortable retirement; a wide circle of friends; varied interests; and a relationship with each other that warmed the hearts of those who knew them.

That's why their acquaintances were left wondering Wednesday as news spread throughout Rostraver of the Fridays' apparent suicide pact.

"Jean," as she liked to be called, had died Tuesday at UPMC Presbyterian, where she had been flown by medical helicopter Sunday, her throat cut. Her husband is recovering from an overdose of prescription painkillers and a slit wrist. And authorities are weighing evidence in a case that's being investigated as a homicide, deciding whether to file charges.

The facts are these, according to Rostraver Police Chief Greg Resetar:

At 4:42 p.m. Sunday, police were called to Cedar Hills Boulevard, a neighborhood of well-kept patio homes, for what initially appeared to be a medical call. A neighbor had noticed 80-year-old Edward P. Friday lying near the front door of his home. Police were told he had a self-inflicted wound to his left wrist and had taken 20 prescription pain pills.

Inside, officers found Jean Friday, 82, on a bed with a "large laceration to the left side of her neck with profuse bleeding."

"We obtained statements from Mr. Friday that he and his wife had decided on a suicide pact that day. He claimed that his wife initially started to cause a self-inflicted wound to the left side of her neck and, at some point in time, he assisted her in those efforts. And when he felt his own injuries weren't life-threatening, he ingested 20 opioid pills," the chief said.

Mr. Friday was "medically stable" at Monongahela Valley Hospital. Mrs. Friday died at 8:45 a.m. Tuesday at UPMC Presbyterian.

The chief called the case "very sad and bizarre." From information gathered by his department, "This was a happy couple."

Happy doesn't cover it, said Donna Vennare, 72, the neighbor who had spotted Mr. Friday lying in his doorway and had directed her adult son, Eric, to check it out before they called police.

"I'm just sick over this. Everybody is," Mrs. Vennare said Wednesday. "You saw him, you saw her. You saw her, you saw him. They were together all the time."

A recent fall had left Mrs. Friday with a broken hip, for which she needed surgery. During her recovery, Mr. Friday wouldn't leave her unattended. "He'd get a neighbor to come sit with her even if he had to run to the store," Mrs. Vennare said.

She said both had worked in the steel industry, he as a millwright in Clairton and she as a chemist. Both were interested in politics and issues concerning retirees. They occasionally traveled to Washington, D.C., to lobby for retiree benefits, Mrs. Vennare recalled.

The couple had no children, though there was some extended family. …

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