Michael Juskin, a 100-year-old man, apparently murdered his wife Sunday, hacking 88-year-old Rosalia Juskin to death with an ax as she slept, according to prosecutors in Bergen County New Jersey, who say that the centenarian then went into a bathroom of the couple’s home and stabbed himself to death.
The elderly couple’s bodies were discovered on Monday in their Elmwood Park home, and now police and prosecutors are trying to figure out what drove a man who had lived 100 years to end his life and that of his wife in such violent and horrifying fashion.
Likely murder suicide of elderly couple at 58 Spruce St Elmwood Park Rosalia & Michael Juskin. Under investigation. Wife 88 and husband 100
— John Molinelli (@johnlmolinelli) April 6, 2015
Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli said that the couple had “a history of domestic issues.” According to media reports, Michael Juskin may have suffered from symptoms of dementia.
The terrible discovery came after a relative of the couple — who did not live with them — became worried and called police. When the cops went to check on the house, they found the bloody scene.
While the incident is still under investigation, Molinelli calls the killings a “likely murder-suicide” and investigators do not believe that any other individual was present during or involved in the killings.
The couple was often seen walking in their neighborhood, and Rosalia Juskin frequently tended to a garden the yard of their home, leaving neighbors shocked at the Juskins’ violent end.
“It seems to be a nice family,” one neighbor told the NJ.com news site, adding that the elderly Juskin couple often wintered in Florida, accompanied by their children.
Though Michael Juskin would be one of the oldest people ever accused or murder, the heartbreaking murder-suicide was sadly not as unusual an event among elderly couples as might be generally believed.
Bergen County, New Jersey, alone has seen two similar murder-suicides committed by men over age 80 since 2012. This weekend’s tragedy has thrown a new spotlight on the issue of domestic violence among senior citizens.
“It’s pretty obvious it’s a problem,” Elaine Meyerson, of the Center for Hope and Safety, told the news site NorthJersey.com. “The question is, how do we get to them when so many of them are housebound, to teach them about safety planning? It’s a challenge, and they shouldn’t have to suffer living in a violent home, just like a 20-year-old.”
Experts say that domestic violence killings among the elderly, such as the murder-suicide allegedly committed by 100-year-old Michael Juskin, often escape official notice because they are wrongly classified as compassionate “mercy killings.”