'Mercy killing' husband: 'I had to do it'

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Howard Rudolph By Andrew Michalscheck Howard Rudolph By Andrew Michalscheck
By Andrew Michalscheck By Andrew Michalscheck
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

SUN CITY, Ariz. -- The man accused of killing his wife in their home on Wednesday told deputies from the Maricopa County Sheriff's office that, "I had to do it," according to court documents obtained by 3TV on Thursday.

Deputies stated that Howard Rudolph, 78, said he felt terrible and that he just could not take it anymore.

Statements from Rudolph and evidence in the home led investigators to believe that Rudolph intended to kill himself after he allegedly shot and killed his wife, 73-year-old Earlene Rudolph.

Howard said he had left a letter for his attorney and provided specific instructions on how "the bodies" should be cremated and the property should be handled.

Howard was not surprised when he was told his wife was deceased and asked if his dogs could go to a friend instead of Maricopa County Animal Care and Control.

Howard also reportedly told a doctor that he killed his wife and drank too much alcohol on Wednesday morning.

Earlene was found dead in a bathroom.

Detectives found a .38 revolver in the house and multiple spent .38 casings.

There was also a bottle of Southern Comfort in the kitchen and a handwritten note underneath the gun that read something about how Rudolph loved his wife but she is so hateful and he couldn't stand to be with her any longer.

Rudolph told detectives that he wrote the note.

He is charged with first-degree murder.