Right-to-die advocate involved in murder-suicide

Posted at 10:15 AM, Apr 19, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-19 20:01:57-04

CHARLOTTE COUNTY, Fla. -- The deaths of an elderly couple at a nursing home in Port Charlotte are being investigated as a murder suicide.

Charlotte County investigators say that deputies were called to the Solaris Healthcare Facility on Kings Highway at 1:17 AM Tuesday.

They arrived to find two deceased residents suffering gunshot wounds.  They have been identified as 88-year-old Barbara Kavanaugh and 81-year-old Frank Kavanaugh, both last known to live on Antigua Drive in Punta Gorda. Neighbors were shocked to hear about the news. "I'm totally shocked to hear about that Sam, I can't believe that something like that would happen," said neighbor Ron Siegrist. "We consider them excellent friends, I would consider him one of my best friends."

Neighbors told Fox 4 that Barbara Kavanaugh was suffering from Alzheimer's disease and was being treated at the healthcare center.

Frank Kavanaugh has been an advisory board member of the controversial group "Final Exit Network" since 2009.  The group is a non-profit that offers support for those that "believe in death with dignity and an individual's right to self determination." 

Last year, he told the Sarasota Herald Tribune that "the ideal situation is a family where everybody is supportive, and the end of a person's life becomes a kind of celebration of the end of suffering."

Some locals in the area agreed with the philosophy, even though the news was shocking. "I think we should all be able to die with dignity instead of laying there suffering," said resident Theresa Barley.

The Charlotte County Sheriff's Office Major Crimes Unit is investigating this incident, which is believed to be a Murder/Suicide investigation at this time. Further information will be released when it becomes available.