Husband struggling with mental health strangled wife to death and then took his own life
The bodies Jonathan Metcalfe, 72, and his 68-year-old wife Sally were found in their home in April, and an inquest has been told he “felt like a failure and was crying at night”
A retired photographer killed his wife and them himself after a long struggle with his mental health, an inquest has been told.
Jonathan Metcalf, 72, and his 68-year-old wife Sally were found in their home in Woodbridge, Suffolk, on April 10 this year.
The body of their 19-year-old cat was also discovered with them, although it was determined that it died from natural causes, although it is not known if it passed away before or after them.
Mrs Metcalf’s sister, Joanna Cunningham, said that Mr Metcalf was a recovering alcoholic and went to the Priory rehabilitation centre “about eight years ago. He was there for six weeks”.
She said that her sister had told her that Mr Metcalf “felt like a failure, was crying at night and clinging to (her)”.
She said their beloved cat that was “suffering from kidney failure” and that they kept on an electric blanket on their bed.
“I was concerned when the day came that the cat passed away it would have left them utterly bereft,” she said.
Mrs Metcalf’s brother, Richard Card, travelled to the address after staff at Sutton Hoo, where Mr and Mrs Metcalf volunteered, were unable to contact them.
Mr Card said, in a statement read to an inquest in Ipswich: “I had a nasty feeling in my stomach I was going to find something unpleasant when I got there.”
Suffolk’s senior coroner, Nigel Parsley, concluded that Mrs Metcalf was unlawfully killed and died of compression of the neck caused either by strangulation or a choke hold.
He concluded that Mr Metcalf died by suicide, and police said there was no third party involvement.
“We know a post-mortem examination identified the cat died from natural causes,” Mr Parsley said.
He asked detective sergeant Simon Fitch, of Suffolk Police: “Is there any evidence that would indicate the death of the cat was a trigger for Jonathan, or can you not say with any certainty?”
The officer replied: “We can’t say that with any certainty, unfortunately, but clearly the cat was very loved and very well thought of so that may have been a contributory factor.”
Allison Girling, operations manager at Sutton Hoo, said that the Metcalfs “would do everything together and were rarely seen apart”.
She said Mrs Metcalf had been worried about her husband’s mental health.
“He was having trouble sleeping and wanted to be with her all the time,” Ms Girling said.
She said that Mr Metcalf had become “fixated” about the lack of parking at their home and “wanted to move to a new house so they could have parking”.
Marilyn Gill-Flaskett, who had known Mrs Metcalf since she was 16 years old, described the Metcalfs’ relationship as “strong”.
“I know Sally thought the world of Jonathan and vice versa,” she said, adding: “I know Jonathan had some issues.”
She said that he “appeared to be worried about a lack of space outside”, adding this may have been made worse by lockdowns.
Sutton Hoo volunteer Adam Collacott said both Mr and Mrs Metcalf had survived cancer.
GP notes for Mr Metcalf recorded that his last consultation was on March 31 for anxiety, and he had been prescribed antidepressants on March 26 when he was described as anxious and tearful.
Mr Parsley extended his condolences to relatives who attended Tuesday’s inquest hearing.