The Chattaroy couple found dead in a trailer home Friday tried to commit suicide in mid-October by overdosing on medication, Spokane County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Sgt. Dave Reagan said.
The couple, Warren A. Fugitt, 78, and Harriet A. Fugitt, 72, both died from gunshot wounds to the chest. Police initially called it a murder-suicide but now say they are not sure if one shot the other or if they each shot themselves.
A signed suicide note was found on the couple’s nightstand, according to a search warrant police obtained for the home. Police would not say who authored or signed the note. Police also found a 20-gauge shotgun at the foot of the bed between the couple’s feet, two shotgun casings and shells and an empty bottle of hydrocodone that was prescribed to Harriet Fugitt.
Their motive for suicide was ongoing health problems, Reagan said. Harriet Fugitt was one of roughly 2,300 people known as “downwinders” who sued major contractors for exposure to radioactive contamination from the Hanford plutonium factory, according to a 2005 Associated Press article.
According to the article, Harriet Fugitt grew up in the Benton City area, south of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.
She blamed several health problems – including hypothyroidism, fibromyalgia, fatigue, headaches, joint and muscle pain, and sensitivity to chemicals and some foods – on exposure to radiation from the site, which manufactured plutonium for Cold War weapons, according to the article.