Elderly Medford man accused of killing his wife dies before trial

MEDFORD, Ore. – A man accused of shooting his wife before seriously wounding himself died before he could face trial.

The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office said on the morning of January 11, there was a reported shooting at a home in the 2800 block of Judy Way in Medford.

When deputies arrived at the scene, they found 87-year-old Joanne Marcella Wheeler dead from an apparent shotgun wound.

The woman’s husband, 88-year-old James Edward Wheeler, was found in another part of the house with a serious gunshot wound from the same shotgun, police said. He was hospitalized and survived.

Investigators said they believe James shot Joanne, then shot himself. Deputies added she had been in “very poor health for some time.”

The Jackson County District Attorney’s Office said after receiving medical treatment, Wheeler told investigators he planned the murder and suicide for several days. Wheeler reportedly said he talked about it with his wife, but he didn’t think she was seriously considering the plan. “When asked if his wife wanted to continue living,” prosecutors said, “Mr. Wheeler indicated that he believed she did want to live.”

Wheeler was indicted on a single charge of second-degree murder in January of 2021.

On March 12, 2021, James Wheeler died while staying at an adult foster home. Due to his death, the D.A.’s office dismissed the murder charge.

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