A 74-year-old North Carolina man ended the life of his wife of 53 years to allow his dementia-ridden partner to die with dignity, he told authorities.
In the early hours of Dec. 14, 2016, Frank Mansfield called police to say he had shot and killed his 73-year-old wife, Phyllis Mansfield, in the garage of their Elizabeth City home.
Mansfield waited in the driveway until police arrived and after being taken into custody, explained that killing his wife was the only way to save her from a life lived "like a caged animal," the Daily Advance reported.
Phyllis suffered from dementia and Mansfield could no longer care for her himself, he said.
Mansfield spoke with officials from the Pasquotank Department of Social Services, as well as other agencies, about placing her in an assisted living facility, but it was an option he had long resisted.
“Mr. Mansfield stated he felt like if he put his wife into the assisted living home that she would be like a caged animal," a sworn statement by police Det. Zachary Lovett obtained by the Advance said.
By Dec. 14, 2016, Mansfield realized he couldn’t put off the decision any longer, he told police.
So instead of admitting Phyllis to a facility, Mansfield retrieved a gun from a tool box, loaded it with bullets he found in a filing cabinet, and called his wife into the garage, he said.
Mansfield told police he hid the gun from Phyllis as she walked toward him, and once she was close, he raised the gun to her chest and fired twice, the Advance wrote.
He waited until Phyllis took “her last breath” before calling police, he reportedly told investigators.
Phyllis was found to have suffered wounds to her head and chest, according to her death certificate.
Mansfield was originally indicted for second-degree murder but pleaded guilty Thursday to voluntary manslaughter.
His sentencing will be delayed for eight months as he finishes chemotherapy for a health condition, according to reports. The minimum sentence possible for someone convicted of manslaughter is three years and two months, officials said.
But, sentencing is based on "points" assigned for a prior criminal record, aspects of the crime and whether or not the defendant was on probation when they committed the crime, authorities told the Advance.
Mansfield had no previous criminal record.