From all indications, Dean Lashbrook and his wife had a happy life together.
Faced with deteriorating health and the realization that their best days were behind them, they apparently decided to end it together.
Authorities said yesterday that the West Toledo couple's deaths were the result of a homicide-suicide the two had planned mutually to save themselves the grief of watching each other go downhill and, ultimately, die separately.
“Loneliness is all it's cracked up to be,” said Dr. Diane Barnett, the Lucas County deputy coroner who performed the autopsies.
Autopsy results show Mr. Lashbrook, 77, died of a single gunshot in his head that was “obviously self-inflicted,” while Julia Eileen Lashbrook, 74, died of three shots in the chest that were fired at close range, Dr. Barnett said. Both had “chronic illnesses associated with old age,” she said.
Mr. Lashbrook's medical profile included diabetes and thyroid disease, while his wife had a heart condition. Neither appeared to be in imminent danger of dying from what they had, but it was unlikely that they would reverse their situations, Dr. Barnett said.
Moreover, they were “very considerate” with the apparent effort they made in planning the event and leaving follow-up instructions on whom to contact.
While authorities remained tight-lipped about what was written on the couple's note, Dr. Barnett said some apologetic words were included for police who had to deal with the bodies and the investigation.
“There's plenty of evidence to indicate this is what it is,” she said.
Sgt. Tim Noble, who helps supervise city detectives, said no one else is suspected of being involved. “They were just two people who didn't want to go on any longer,” Sergeant Noble said.
The bodies were found at 10:30 a.m. Friday by a home health-care nurse, in a car parked in the attached garage of the couple's residence at 3205 Orchard Trail Rd. The garage door was closed, Sergeant Noble said.
Mr. Lashbrook, an engineer, was a partner with Bauer, Stark & Lashbrook, a former Toledo architectural firm, before retiring in the early 1990s. At one time his wife had been a nurse.
Family members could not be reached for comment. But Charles Stark III, the firm's owner and a partner of Mr. Lashbrook's for 30 years, said he was “in shock” from the shootings.
“He was a perfect partner. He was totally forthright and honest and reliable,” Mr. Stark said.