93-Year-Old Man Accused of Killing His Wife of 70 Years Because He 'Couldn't Take It Anymore'

Heartbreaking 10

You'd think after 70 years of marriage and seven children, it'd be one big celebration. Hey, we made it! We're still together! Life is goooood! But, alas, sometimes it's not that way. This sounds like a couple who should have ignored all of those "How to Stay Married" books and gotten a divorce. Even if they happened to be in their 90s. A 93-year-old man, Harry Irwin, was charged with murder after stabbing his wife, Grace, 95, to death. That's the kind of 'til death do you part that no one wants.

Despite the fact that Harry and Grace had almost reached their diamond anniversary and probably would have been the subject of many a fawning "70 years together!" articles, apparently, they didn't get along so well.

Reportedly, Harry admitted stabbing his wife to death after she "argued and screamed at him all night" and that he "couldn't take it anymore." Grace had cancer and Harry was reportedly her main caretaker. His brother-in-law said he cared for her "24/7." Perhaps he was under huge amounts of stress. Jeez, with seven kids, you'd think he'd have a lot of help. So much for having kids to take care of you when you're old. (One of my least favorite reasons people say they have kids.)

Harry then reportedly stabbed himself, but he survived. Police were called to the house by one of their daughters, who said she had received a "troubling" phone call from her father.

There's no evidence that Harry had dementia, but perhaps that was a factor too. Certainly, he must have been overwhelmed and exhausted. But perhaps also, despite the longevity of their marriage, they just didn't get along. We've all seen those old bickering couples on the street -- or the ones silently eating their food in a restaurant, not even once glancing at each other. I know one couple who entered a nursing home together -- but the wife didn't want her husband sharing her room.

We place a premium on longevity in this culture -- not on quality. However, it's not easy or even feasible to leave a spouse once they become old, infirm, and ill. But a long marriage isn't necessarily a guarantee of happiness.

Do you think this couple should have gotten divorced?


Image via Fabio Penna/Flickr

crime, death, in the news, weddings


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dirti... dirtiekittie

not necessarily - it sounds like she needed a lot of help and care in her state, and he was doing it on his own. you see middle aged children break down from the stress of caring for ill and elderly parents - and this man was taking care of his own wife at his age. perhaps he knew the cancer was taking a toll on her and she wasn't really always an angry, argumentative wife and her health problems caused a lot of strain. it's not unheard of. it sounds more like this man and wife needed a far better support system to help take care of them both and desperation got to the better of him.

cmjaz cmjaz

I swear that my grandparents hated each other til the day he died.

nonmember avatar LizzieBorden

Wow I can't imagine why the children wouldn't be the main care givers; being a caretaker to a cancer patient when you're 90+ years old has to be overwhelming. Who knows what his mental state was at that age.

miche... micheledo

Caregiving is one of the most stressful things a person can do.  In fact, most caregivers (even those generations younger) die before the one they are caring for!!  I don't think this is necessarily a reflection on their entire marriage, but possibly just on the final years.

The poor woman.  And the poor man.  I can't imagine any 90 year old be the sole caretaker of someone.  It is an exhausting job.  :(

DebaLa DebaLa

^^ My grandparents hated each other too, but refused to divorce, claiming they wouldn't know what to do without each other. Sad.

In this case, tho, the orig article cites 90% (and on the rise) of these killings are done by caregiving husbands who have military backgrounds and won't ask for help. They're just not used to being in that strange role, now thrust upon them, even if it starts off willingly and lovingly.

The couple's children live nearby and DO help, but apparantly, didn't see the signs.

handy... handy0318

After reading the article, it's clear that their children were very much involved involved with their parents, he was the primary caregiver, but the 7 children all lived within 15 minutes of them and visited often.  Nor is there any indication in the article whatsoever that the Irwins did not have a happy marriage.  Most likely, he was just too tired and snapped.  My dad had cancer and we all loved him very much, but the drugs and pain caused him to be very hard to care for during his last days. My mom took the brunt of it, but she still loved him and his last few days were not at all like the very happy 52 years of marriage they shared. Very tragic, and nothing at all like Kiri portrays it.

I think it's ridiculous to prosecute the man.  Can anyone seriously believe he is a danger to society? 

Texas... TexasGirl512

" So much for having kids to take care of you when you're old. (One of my least favorite reasons people say they have kids.)" - Who the hell says that?? I, for one, have NEVER said that I had my son just so he would have to take care of me when I'm old. I would suggest you check your facts Kiri before you come off as being self-righteous. Oh wait! Too late.

nonmember avatar MayasMom2

He didn't give her some sleeping pills. He stabbed her. That's rage. I seriously doubt they had a happy marriage.

Robin Young

Wow I always come on here and see people talking rude and disrespectful to the writers. Sorry but if u don't like the way they write things then don't look at their articles. I believe that Kiri does an amazing job. No one is perfect and people just need to stop being mean!

On another note it does not sound like they had a happy marriage at all.


hexxuss hexxuss

I'm surprised that no one brought up the obvious in this.  They needed a visiting and/or live-in nurse.  They ARE able to get one especially if life-threatening illnesses are involved.  Respite care can involve them staying in their home, or going to assisted living or a nursing home.  I think there's a lot more than her griping that he 'couldn't take anymore' - as evident by the fact that he tried to stab himself too.  The whole thing just makes me sad. My own Mum has been talking about going into assited living & wouldn't hear of her kids taking care of her as she gets older - but I've met several (one ex-mother-in-law who is certifiably crazy) who believe that their kids OWE it to them to do that, and even refuse to get a retirement fund, etc to care for themselves financially as they get older. I'll be following in my Mum's footsteps.

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