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Nev. couple go to Fla. church where they married 40 years ago to fulfill apparent suicide pact
LAS VEGAS (AP) ' A Las Vegas couple traveled from their home in Nevada to the Florida church where they were married 40 years ago to kill themselves in an apparent suicide pact, police said.
A pastor found Bruce Wright and his wife, Patricia Wright, Sunday morning beneath an oak tree behind Friendship United Methodist Church in Punta Gorda, about 80 miles south of Tampa. Two guns were nearby.
"He used a shotgun to his head and she used the rifle," said Bob Carpenter, a spokesman for the Charlotte County, Fla., sheriff's office. "It was in the head, too. It was a pact."
The husband, 60, was found dead, and his wife, 57, died Wednesday after several days on life support at an area hospital, Carpenter said.
The couple's nephew, Daniel Johnson, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that the Wrights had no children and rarely kept contact with family members. Johnson said the family doesn't understand why the couple killed themselves or returned to the church where they had wed.
"It was a romantic tragedy," said Johnson, 28. "Life started for the two of them there, and that's officially where life ended for them."
The couple had been staying in a local motel together, but it was unclear when they arrived in Florida, Carpenter told The Associated Press. The couple had attended high school in Charlotte County and still had family in the area, he said.
On Sunday, they apparently parked their SUV with a Nevada veteran license plate in the church parking lot and walked to the tree in the backyard, Carpenter said.
The Rev. Mike Winchell, who moved from Oklahoma to join the church two weeks ago, found the bodies when he arrived to turn on the air conditioning before Sunday service, Carpenter said. Winchell did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
"The sheriff was trying to console the pastor that this is not really our community," Carpenter said. "It's a heck of thing to step into."
Patricia Wright was most recently employed at a hospital and Bruce Wright was working in sound production, Johnson said.
Johnson said he last saw them two years ago, when the couple spoke of leaving Las Vegas and moving to California. Johnson did not believe they ever made it there.
"We want to figure out what's going on and put people at ease," Johnson said. "But honestly, all we have is a few facts, and everything else is speculation."