Manheim Twp. man apparently kills wife, self
Saturday, July 8
A Manheim Township man shot and killed his wife and then turned the gun on himself Friday morning in an apparent murder-suicide, police said.
A visiting nurse called Manheim Township police after she discovered the body of Daisy Woodward, 69, in a first-floor room of her New Holland Pike home at 9:20 a.m., police said.
Later that morning, police found the body of her husband, 74-year-old Robert I. Woodward, in an upstairs room.
Police recovered the gun Woodward allegedly used and said he likely killed his wife out of mercy.
Mrs. Woodward suffered from multiple sclerosis and had been confined to a wheelchair for the past six years, said the Rev. William Spiegelhalder, a visiting pastor at the Woodwards' church, Grandview United Methodist.
The disease, which attacks the central nervous system, impairs speech and affects motor skills. The nurse who discovered Mrs. Woodward's body visited the home daily.
On June 26, Woodward paid for the couple to be cremated and buried in Grandview United Methodist's memorial garden, according to church records.
Spiegelhalder said he had visited the couple earlier in the week to provide Communion for Mrs. Woodward. He had planned to visit the couple again Friday until he learned from a member of his congregation the Woodwards were dead.
"I think it was a case where he (Woodward) just couldn't take it anymore," Spiegelhalder said. "Everyone could see that taking care of Daisy for so many years was wearing on him."
Mrs. Woodward recently returned home after a monthlong stay at Maple Farm Nursing Center in Akron. But earlier this week, she broke her leg after falling out of her wheelchair. The injury made it very difficult for Woodward to move his wife, Spiegelhalder said.
"It would have broken her heart to live in a nursing home," Spiegelhalder said. "He always wanted to be the one to take care of her."
Before Mrs. Woodward was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, the couple was active in the church. The disease forced her to miss services, but Woodward continued to serve as an usher there and attended services once a month.
Spiegelhalder or a member of the congregation would visit the couple every day.
The visitors would help with daily chores and carry Mrs. Woodward around the small, two-story house in Eshelman Estates. The home was not handicapped-accessible, and her wheelchair could not fit through the doorways of most of the rooms, Spiegelhalder said.
"The last several months she was almost helpless," Spiegelhalder said. "He did everything for her because he loved her so much."
The Woodwards moved to Lancaster from Coatesville about 50 years ago, Spiegelhalder said.
The couple is survived by a daughter, Carol Woodward Carrell of Texas, and two sons, Robert S. and John, both of Lancaster. The family declined to be interviewed.
"They were such a devoted couple," Spiegelhalder said. "I believe they just made a pact to leave this world behind and go out together."
Lancaster County Coroner Dr. Barry Walp said an autopsy is scheduled
for 8:30 a.m. today.