Man Says He Killed His Wife Because He Couldn’t Pay Her Medical Bills

A Missouri man charged with strangling his wife told the police that he had killed her while she was lying in a hospital bed because he could not take care of her or pay her medical bills, prosecutors said.

The man, Ronnie Wiggs, 75, of Independence, Mo., appeared in court on Monday on a second-degree murder charge, records show. A hearing has been scheduled for Thursday to review his bond of $250,000.

Ellen Wiggs, 72, had been admitted to the Centerpoint Medical Center in Independence, a suburb southeast of Kansas City, Mo., for a new port for her dialysis, according to charging documents and other public records.

At about 7:30 p.m. Friday, Ms. Wiggs, was seen in her room “alert and oriented,” according to court records. Around an hour later, records show a “code blue” call, a hospital announcement that typically means a patient is in cardiac or respiratory arrest. She was unresponsive and did not have a pulse, according to charging documents.

Afterward, “suspicious injuries” were seen on Ms. Wiggs, including redness on her neck and a wound in the middle of her throat, charging documents said. A witness told the police that her injuries were not caused by efforts to save her, records show.

Ms. Wiggs was moved to the intensive care unit, where medical staff members were able to restart her pulse. But after she was found to have no brain activity, hospital workers began preparing to harvest her organs, records show. She was pronounced dead the following morning.

At some point, Mr. Wiggs was overheard by hospital workers saying, “I did it, I killed her, I choked her,” according to the charging documents.

A hospital spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.

A lawyer for Mr. Wiggs had not been listed in court records. The Jackson County prosecutor’s office declined to comment on Tuesday.

Mr. Wiggs left the hospital after the attack, but he was later brought back by a relative after his wife was found unresponsive, according to the charging documents.

Mr. Wiggs told the police that he had killed his wife by choking her, placing his hands around her neck and his thumbs on her throat, and that he had covered her mouth and nose to keep her from screaming, according to court records.

Mr. Wiggs told the police that he was depressed, and that he had killed his wife because he could not take care of her or afford to pay her medical bills, according to the charging documents. He also told the police that he had previously tried to kill his wife on two occasions.

Once, Mr. Wiggs told the police, he had tried to kill her when she was in a rehabilitation facility, but she woke up and told him not to do so. Another time, he told the police, he wanted to try to kill her, but he didn’t get the chance because she was hooked up to several machines at a hospital.

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