Update: Elderly man accused in 'mercy killing' of wife is found dead

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey
By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas

PHOENIX (AP) -- A Sun City man accused in the shooting death of his 73-year-old wife in what was being called a mercy killing has been found dead in his car.

Howard Allen Rudolph, 79, went missing after cutting off his electronic monitoring ankle-bracelet Sunday and didn't appear for a court hearing Monday, according to the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office.

Now, the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office has confirmed that Rudolph's body was found in his parked car in the northwest Valley on Tuesday, near 99th Ave. & Beardsley.  The cause of death reportedly appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

"He was staying at some friends' homes," says Maricopa Co. Sheriff Joe Arpaio. "We're now investigating whether any friends were involved in his escape by helping him cut the monitor.  He is somewhat frail, 79 years old, so we're not sure if he did this on his own."

Rudolph was arrested Aug. 7 and charged with second-degree murder in the death of Earlene Rudolph.

Sheriff's officials cited statements made by Rudolph about his wife being ill and what he wrote in a note found with a revolver at the home.

"I had to do it," Rudolph told deputies after his arrest, according to court paperwork.

Investigators believe Rudolph intended to kill himself after allegedly killing his wife of 13 years.

They said Rudolph had written a note to his attorney containing specific instructions on how "the bodies" should be cremated and how the couple's home should be handled.

Deputies went to the couple's house in the Phoenix-area retirement community after the Sheriff's Office received a hang-up 911 call from the home.

They say Rudolph made incriminating statements after deputies found Earlene Rudolph dead in a bathroom with what appeared to be multiple gunshot wounds

Rudolph was released to the custody of his friends under electronic monitoring in February.