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Officials say man strangled ill wife

Published Oct. 2, 2005

A 72-year-old woman found dead in her mobile home over the weekend was strangled, authorities said Monday.

Her 74-year-old husband, who later shot himself in the head, is the main suspect in the killing, officials said.

Preliminary autopsy results showed that Mary Machunk was strangled Saturday night, sheriff's spokesman Jon Powers said.

Her body was found early Sunday in her Colonial Hills home by a health care worker who stopped by to check on her.

Mrs. Machunk's husband, Joseph Machunk, remains in critical condition at St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa with an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, Powers said.

Detectives are not certain what led to the killing but believe Joseph Machunk took his wife's life, then tried to take his own.

"At this point, we have no reason to believe there was any third party involved," Powers said.

Both were in failing health, neighbors said, and Alzheimer's disease had been diagnosed in Mrs. Machunk's case. Mr. Machunk had talked of putting his wife in a nursing home, but she did not want to go, neighbors said. The couple had been married for four years and lived together for several years before that.

Because of Mr. Machunk's injuries, detectives have not been able to question him about his wife's death. There was no sign of a struggle in the couple's living room and there was no sign of forced entry at the house.

The couple had no history of domestic problems, Powers said. Deputies were called to the Machunk home in August 1996 for an incident involving a welfare check, Powers said.

Late Saturday, Mr. Machunk went to a neighbor's house, upset because his wife would not get off the floor. The neighbor returned with him to the house, and she said the Machunks were laughing and in good spirits when she left.