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Mercy Killings

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
I am curious to see what everyone thinks about Mercy Killings. Here is a story that I've copied and it is 100% true. This incident happened only 20 miles away from where I live and this couple were customers at my Pharmacy.

Do you think this was right?
A man in Hebron, Nebraska shot and killed his wife to end her suffering from colon cancer. But an autopsy found no trace of the disease.
It was not immediately known whether doctors had misdiagnosed the woman, her husband had misunderstood the diagnosis, or if she had been cured.

Vernal Ohlrich, 76, shot and killed his wife, Phyllis Ohlrich, 74, in her hospital bed on Oct 27 (1998). They had been married 57 years. He said that he killed her to end her suffering, and that she had said that she wanted to die. He also claimed that immediately after killing her he attempted to kill himself, but the gun jammed.

But according to Thayer County prosecutor Daniel Werner, "The autopsy reports indicate that there was no evidence of cancer."

Werner said he believes that Ohlrich thought his wife was suffering from cancer when he killed her. Mrs Ohlrich had an operation for colon cancer in May 1998. Following that she had chemotherapy for several months. She was readmitted to the hospital in September for a back injury. Werner noted that it is possible that the back injury, and not cancer, was the source of her pain.

Mr Ohlrich pled "no contest" to manslaughter after the prosecutor agreed to drop charges of first-degree murder and use of a weapon to commit a felony. Werner said he would seek some prison time but did not know how much. He said he agreed to the plea bargain because it would be pointless to give the elderly man a long prison sentence.

"That is the problem with so-called mercy killings", Werner said. "I'm convinced Ohlrich believed she was in imminent threat of death from cancer. He was wrong."

Ohlrich said he did not regret his actions. "She said she wanted to die several times. I was with her every day."

"Wife killed to end pain wasn't ill". Reuters. Feb 8, 1999.

"Nebraska: Woman Shot in Euthanasia Attempt Had no Cancer". Infonet News. Feb 9, 1999
post #2 of 12
Thread Starter 
Here is another article about this:

Man shoots terminally ill wife; gives new life to mercy killing debate in US
David Hendee

DESHLER (NEBRASKA), Nov 22: The debate over mercy killing has been brought home to this heartland town where a retired plumber is awaiting trial for the shooting to death of his cancer-stricken wife.
On October 27, Vernal `Bob' Ohlrich, 76, allegedly fired a slug from a 0.22-caliber pistol into the side of his wife's head as she lingered near death in a hospital in the nearby town of Hebron.

The gunshot ended 74-year-old Phyllis Ohlrich's battle with colon cancer and started her husband's own struggle with the legal system.

Ohlrich was released on a 35,000-dollar bond to live with a son. His trial is scheduled to begin on February 8.

The prosecuting attorney, Dan Werner, has said he will not seek the death penalty, but he has charged Ohlrich with first-degree murder. Conviction would require a life prison sentence. Townspeople in this south-central Nebraska farming community of 892 say the Ohlrichs were devoted to each other. They had been married 56 years. During his wife's illness and frequenthospital stays, Ohlrich faithfully spent all day, everyday at her side. Their four children say the family considers the killing Ohlrich's attempt to be humane to a suffering spouse.

Phyllis Ohlrich was being treated for pain and had been incoherent for some time because of medication. Twice in the month before her death, doctors called the family to her bedside because they thought she would not live through the night.

Two weeks before she was killed, she told a neighbour: ``I just wish I could die. I'm ready to go.''

This personal crisis suddenly triggered a new public debate from coffee shops to newspaper columns about assisted suicide and mercy killings.

The debate is likely to grow more intense on Sunday when the CBS television network is to air a videotape showing Jack Kevorkian, Michigan's euthanasia advocate, administering a lethal injection to a terminally ill patient at the latter's request. The Hemlock Society of Nebraska said Ohlrich's killing could have been avoided if state law hadallowed physician-assisted suicide.

Reverend Frederick Felger of Omaha, president of the Nebraska chapter of the society, said Phyllis Ohlrich's death was like a sacrifice from Biblical times, ``not to appease any gods but to deliver her from what a doctor could not -- hours and months of cancerous pain.''

Dr Scott McPherson of Lincoln, President of the Nebraska Coalition for Compassionate Care, said legally sanctioned euthanasia and assisted suicide would lead to the killing of terminally ill patients rather than providing them with the comfort and love they deserve.

McPherson said he feared that the Ohlrich family's tragedy could create sympathy for assisted suicide and euthanasia. The case came at the same time that one of Omaha's largest hospitals announced that financial troubles were forcing the closing of a centre established to help families caring for terminally ill relatives. ``It is the predicament of the dying: They produce little revenue,'' said Ruth Muchemore, a registered nurse inOmaha.

At Phyllis Ohlrich's funeral, the Rev Duane Fahr said the killing was against God's will. ``We have no right to take a human life that God has placed upon this earth,'' he noted.

Prosecutor Werner rejects the notion that Ohlrich's case can be dismissed as a mercy killing. ``I question whether there is any legal basis for that and whether that, in fact, is not a contradiction in terms,'' he said. ``Is any killing merciful?'

Publicity about Ohlrich's case has generated letters and donations of money from across the country, his lawyer said.

Copyright © 1998 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.
post #3 of 12
I think if the person who is going to die WANTS to die, and is in a clear frame of mine, aka not under the influance of drugs when they proclaim they want to die.

BUT for someone else to take it upon themselves and kill someone with out permission just because they don't want that person to suffer is wrong, they do not have the right to take someone's life away when they want to keep it.
post #4 of 12
Thread Starter 
This man served almost 2 years (I believe that's right...either 2 or 3 years) in prison for his actions. The courts went pretty easy on him, but the thing that is REALLY odd is she didn't have cancer! He said he killed her because she was suffering from cancer and she told him she didn't want to live anymore. That to me is just weird! The stories say that she DID have cancer a few months before and got treatment for it....But he in his mind she was suffering from cancer!

I see this man once in a great while and he is just a grumpy & cold old man. I can't help but think of him as a murderer everytime I come near him. It is a very strange feeling to be handing him is medicine and holding a short conversation with him. It's not everyday to chat with someone who KILLED someone!
post #5 of 12
I think this case is almost an argument for the regulation of assisted suicide, so that people like him don't feel the need to take it into their own hands. Maybe the wife was very depressed and wanted to die, so she convinced her husband she still had cancer and was suffering terribly knowing what he would do? Isn't that the coward's way out! I'm sure he is cold - he killed his wife, thinking he was ending her misery only to find out she didn't have the cancer. It really makes you wonder about their private converations.
post #6 of 12
valan: I don't think it's the cowards way out, and try saying that to someone who is suicidal and watch how fast they kill themselves.
Suicide is the result of EXTREME pain, misfortune, and the extent of being mistreated. It is to the point where the world is so sad, and only a select few can see this, that they die.
post #7 of 12
Angel, I didn't mean suicide in general, I meant manipulating someone else to do the dirty work for you and leaving them to have to deal with that for the rest of their lives.
post #8 of 12
Ahhh ok.
That is pretty messed up. The whole world is, but this is nothing new.
post #9 of 12
I have to weigh in on this- because it has hit me close to home. My uncle comitted suicide a few years ago and has left our family, including two beautiful little grandsons behind to deal with the pain. He DID take the cowards way out- instead of facing his problems, and getting help, he decided to transfer the pain to us. Suicide is the most selfish act a person can committ.

I have had times in my life when I didn't think life was worth living-I lost a child in the fifth month of pregnancy and didn't think I could ever function as a normal human being again. But, instead of reaching for those pills, or a gun, I drew every last ounce of strength from within myself and woke up each day and lived . I didn't have the right to end my life- to take away my husbands wife, or my daughters mother, or my mother and fathers child.

People say you have the right to do what you want with your own body, life. Well, maybe and maybe not. If it affects other people, and suicide sure as hell DOES- maybe you don't.

In this day and age of TV shows that touch on things like depression, and the medication and doctors to deal with it properly, theres not really room for many excuses (barring drug use and severe mental illness).

Of course, as always, this is just my opinion- as I see it based on what I've experienced.

Sorry,I got off topic- I know this thread was about mercy killings and not suicide per se.
post #10 of 12
Melissa: The problem is that you don't always have help, sad but true. It is not there for everyone. Heck, I've been trying to seek help for years, but I'm still depressed and recently have started to have suicidal thoughts now and again.
You can't just snap your fingers, or talk to one person and make it all magically go away.

Though I know, now adays it can be a bit hard to tell who's sincer on their threats about suicide, or that they are depressed, I mentioned this on another thread about popularity, but I even have some kids asking me if it's really "cool" to be depressed. I can't believe some of the stuff that these kids think, they must have NO BRAINS.

Suicide, or a Mercy Killing is a very hard thing for anyone to accept or understand.

And fyi, your first statement is a very dangerous thing to say to a suicidal person, I really hope you keep those type of thoughts to yourself and not say them to a loved one whom is suicidal, I'm not saying that you have, I'm just saying it'd probably be safer to NOT say it.
post #11 of 12
Well, maybe I wouldn't say that to a suicidal person, but you know what? When I was at my lowest after losing my baby and thought death was the only way to escape that pain, somebody said that very thing to ME. It shook me up and led to me seeking help for my depression.

Suicide IS selfish and sometimes it takes someone telling you that to make you snap out of your self involved world. Its often self pity that gets a person to that point in the first place.

I agree with you that the help you need isn't always there, though, and thats a sad reality.
post #12 of 12
To the view of others it can seem selfish yes. And I can see that side. You were lucky, that you were able to snap out of it. At times I can now, as an adult, but I honestly couldn't say the same for when I was younger. Had you told me those words as a 13 year old I probably would have gone and done something very bad, because it would have just shown me another reason how I'm worthless and how I hurt other people so I therefore didn't deserve to live. Do you understand that?
I know I have a hard time potraying what I'm trying to say some times, even though it makes perfect sense to me!

Almost any type of strong emotion is bad for a suicidal person, and some of those people have nothing to loose anyways, no family, no friends.

And the sickest of all, suicide is becoming a trend... how... lovely...
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