A Twin Cities man was charged Monday with helping his wife commit suicide, ending what her ex-husband said was a life of chronic pain.
Thomas J. Houck, 61, of Eden Prairie, is due in court Tuesday and remains jailed in lieu of $70,000 bail.
Houck was charged with felony aiding a suicide in connection with the asphyxiation death last week of Linda I. Conrad, 59, in their home in the 18200 block of Cascade Avenue.
Houck called 911 about 2:20 a.m. Thursday and told the dispatcher that he awoke in the middle of the night to find his wife had “euthanized herself,” according to the criminal complaint.
When police arrived, they found Conrad dead and a handwritten note nearby. It said she “could not endure any more pain and needed a way out of the pain,” the complaint read.
Neighbors said they hadn’t seen Conrad leave the home in years since she had she suffered severe injuries in an accident, Fox 9 reported last week.
Conrad had medical problems ever since she was child and endured chronic migraines, severe stomach pain, allergies and depression until the very end, said Tim Conrad, who married her in 1987 and has remained a close friend since their divorce in 2006.
“She basically went for the last three weeks without a meal,” said Conrad. “It was snowballing. … But [doctors] wouldn’t give her any pain medication because of the opioid crisis.”
He said he sympathizes with Houck and believes “it could have ended up the same way” if he had remained married to her.
Houck admitted helping his wife research various suicide methods and helped her as she committed suicide, according to the complaint.
In 2012, Dakota County prosecutors charged the national right-to-die Final Exit Network in connection with the asphyxiation suicide of Doreen Dunn, a 57-year-old Apple Valley woman who took her life shortly after contacting the group in 2007. Dunn told Final Exit counselors that she had suffered from unbearable pain for a decade, but she did not disclose to family her plans to commit suicide.
Final Exit’s attorneys said the Dakota County jury convicted the group “based on its open practice of providing instructions to its members” like Dunn and said that Final Exit’s instructions are freely available online, in bookstores and at libraries around the country.
At trial, prosecutors argued that the group gave her a “blueprint” for ending her life and made efforts to conceal her suicide from family and authorities by removing evidence.
The Florida-based nonprofit was convicted, which led to a $33,000 fine and nearly $3,000 in restitution. The verdict has been upheld on appeal.