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Doctor and Wife dead from gunshot wounds — Murder/Suicide or something else?

The bodies of local doctor and wife were found dead in Cross Lanes, West Virginia about 11:30 a.m. Monday.  Dr. Bruce Foster, who was well known for his work and views on end-of-Life care, and his wife, Marlise Foster, were found dead at their home in Cross Lanes.  Both died from gunshot wounds.  Police are calling it a murder-suicide.  

“Dr. Bruce Foster’s co-workers came to the Flairwood Drive Home Monday because Dr. Foster had not shown up for work,” said the Foster’s next-door neighbor, John and Betty Walker.

Neighbor, John Walker entered the house finding the couple dead and described seeing Dr. Foster’s arm draped over his wife’s body, said Betty Walker.

Deputies at this time have not released all the names of those who are involved.  “The working theory,” Humphreys said, “is that the deaths are a murder-suicide.” “There are no other suspects,” he said.

The Foster’s, were known as a loving couple and lived modestly.  “They were really good people,” John Walker said. “Nice genuine people. He was really intelligent and she was just very nice.”

“They were never apart. I’ve never seen such an in-love couple. They’re going to be missed greatly,” Said Betty Walker.

Betty Walker also stated that she knew of, “not one instance of violence between the two. They were best friends.”

Betty walker said she had talked to another neighbor who was close to the Fosters. The neighbor told her that Marlise Foster suffered from kidney trouble, had only one kidney for most of her life and had been very ill the last couple of months.

According to a 2004 Gazette interview, Dr. Bruce Foster was chairman of ethics at Thomas Memorial Hospital and worked with the West Virginia for End-of-Life Care. A Thomas Memorial spokeswoman would not comment and an official with the Center for End- of Care said they hadn’t had much contact with Dr. Foster lately.

Dr. Foster originally from Wilmington, Delaware, moved to West Virginia after completing medical school at Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia. He worker for a period of time at Union Carbide and retired when plant began downsizing and opened a family practice at Thomas Memorial Hospital.

The Walker’s said that Marlise Foster had been an office manager at his medical practice, but she had not been working there lately.

According to the online Biography found on Zoom info, a business profile site, Dr. Foster was a supporter of living wills and medical power attorney documents. He also, authored a book titled “Death and Dying, or Can You Love me Enough to Let me Go”? The book was published by the Foster couple. Dr. Bruce Foster also produced a DVD titled “Facing your Future.”

An interview given in 2004, Dr. Bruce Foster said he learned how to handle terminally ill patients when his father was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He said that because of his experience that he began giving lectures about End-of-Life care and treatment.  “I realize I had been trained all my life to cure disease. Death was the enemy, Foster said at the time. “I had never had any training on how to cooperate with the disease.”

Although this case does not exactly fit into the category of West Virginia personal injury law, this abrupt, violent ending to, by all accounts, a beautiful marriage, intriguing and sad. It also brings up the questions of “whether we should be allowed to choose how our life ends?”, especially when we are dealing with the painful, terminal illness of ourselves or a loved one.  Currently, West Virginia law says no and labels any such choice as a murder and/or suicide.  What do you think?

–by Brooks West, WV personal injury attorney











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