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Minnesota man accused of assisting in wife's suicide

Thomas Houck Submitted photo

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn.—An Eden Prairie man is accused of helping his apparently ailing wife kill herself, authorities say.

Thomas James Houck, 61, was charged Monday with one count of aiding another's suicide, according to the criminal complaint filed against him in Hennepin County District Court.

Houck initially told law enforcement that during the early morning hours on Thursday, he discovered his wife dead when he woke up to use the bathroom, telling authorities at the time that she had "euthanized herself" via asphyxiation, charges say.

Investigators who responded to the scene found the dead woman, along with evidence of a suicide and a handwritten note that said she couldn't endure any more pain, charges say. A plastic bag was found over her head and a tube was running from a nitrogen gas tank into the bag.

After law enforcement secured the scene and obtained a search warrant, Houck reportedly returned to the residence and said he hadn't been completely forthcoming about what had happened.

He went on to say that his wife had been struggling with pain from an unknown ailment and that he helped her research ways to end her life online, authorities say.

He then admitted to accompanying his wife to a store on Aug. 15 to purchase a tank of nitrogen that she needed to do it. He also admitted that he helped his wife make a hood out of the plastic bag, based on information the couple found online. He also told authorities that he held the bag over her head and turned on the nitrogen gas tank as she died.

He allegedly also confessed to checking her pulse to ensure she was dead before throwing away their receipt from the store. He told investigators he wore gloves as he helped his wife because he knew what he was doing was "wrong and illegal," the complaint said.

Law enforcement obtained video of Houck accompanying his wife to the store and subsequently throwing away the receipt.

He faces one felony-level count of aiding another's suicide.

Houck has no criminal record.

He is expected to make his first appearance on the charge Tuesday. No attorney was listed for him in court records

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