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Family calls incident act of euthanasia

Prior to their deaths, Paul and Doris Warren both were suffering from medical problems, their family said on Thursday.

The Warrens, both 86, were found dead in their rural Mahnomen County home on Monday. The Mahnomen County Sheriff's Office in a press release stated that their deaths were a murder-suicide.

According to a statement released by their family on Thursday, Paul's actions were that of euthanasia.

Doris had fallen and gotten a concussion which led to her needing brain surgery in 2005 and she then suffered from subsequent memory problems, the statement said.

In August 2007, Doris' condition worsened and she was unable to walk unassisted, lost interest in eating and became more difficult to care for, the statement said. Meanwhile, Paul was suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and was often unable to sleep because he was either coughing or afraid that Doris would try to get up unassisted, the family said.

When it became apparent that Doris would have to go into a nursing home, Paul "took her life and then his own," the statement said.

While the family is calling the incident an act of euthanasia, assisted suicide is illegal in Minnesota.

Mahnomen County Sheriff Doug Krier on Thursday said their deaths still will be labeled as murder-suicide since Paul killed Doris and then himself.

But, he said, knowing the medical issues they faced may help explain what happened.

"It doesn't make it right, but you can understand it," he said.

The Mahnomen County Sheriff's Office Dispatch received a call from Paul at about 8:15 p.m. on Monday. Krier said on Thursday that he called asking that law enforcement notify their family members. No note was left at the scene, he said.

60 years together

According to the statement from their family:

Paul and Doris Warren both grew up in the Sand Hills of Nebraska. Doris became a teacher and taught school in Nebraska and California before she and Paul married in 1947. Paul attended college for one year before enlisting in the U.S. Army at the start of World War II.

The couple ranched in Nebraska until moving with their five children to the Mahnomen area. Paul, who had experience in welding and metal work, designed and built equipment for ranching and opened Warren and Sons with two of his children, Gene and Tom.

Doris liked to garden and quilt. She also did bookkeeping for the cattle operation until she was 83 years old and began to suffer from seizures.

During frequent hospitalizations following her brain surgery, Paul was her primary caregiver and never left her side in the hospital unless another family member was able to be with her in his place.

The couple wished to donate their bodies to medical research, and the University of Minnesota Anatomy Department will be conducting this research. Once complete, their remains will be cremated and then spread over Warren Lake, where they spend the last 45 years of their lives. They requested that no funeral services be held, the statement said.

They are survived by their five children, Gene Warren of Bagley, Tom (Ethel) Warren of Bagley, Margo (Raymond) Hanson of Twin Valley, Mark (Lesley) Warren of Rapid City, S.D., and Joe (Eva) Warren of Vallejo, Calif.; and 15 grandchildren.