Police suspect an elderly carer strangled his frail wife before taking his own life.
Officers were called to a house on quiet Mallory Grove, Islands Brow, after Edith Gravener’s daughter-in-law discovered the 79-year-old’s body inside.
A search for Mrs Gravener’s husband, Ronald, then also ended in tragedy when the 78-year-old’s body was found in Carr Mill Dam.
Subsequent post mortem examinations showed that Mrs Gravener, a retired seamstress, died as a result of asphyxiation and Mr Gravener, a retired coal miner, of drowning.
A police spokeswoman confirmed that detectives believe Mr Gravener strangled his wife before committing suicide.
An investigation is now underway, with a file set to be prepared for the coroner.
Stunned neighbours living in the sleepy cul-de-sac told of their shock after the bodies of the elderly couple were discovered just hours apart.
One said: “They had lived here for 20-plus years and were a really lovely couple. She suffered from dementia but he was totally devoted to her and cared for her around the clock. We used to see him going up the road to get his paper every morning.
“It’s terrible what’s happened. We’ve lived here for 30 years and nothing like this has ever happened around here before.”
Another told how the first he knew was when police knocked on his door and told him that Mrs Gravener had been found dead and that Mr Gravener and his car had disappeared.
He added: “Whichever way you look at it, it’s a tragedy.”
Inquests into both deaths were opened on Monday afternoon.
In the opening statements it was revealed that Mrs Gravener’s daughter-in-law, Amanda, had arrived at Mallory Grove shortly after 9am last Tuesday (December 2) to take Mrs Gravener to see her GP, but had found the couple’s property unlocked.
Inside, she discovered Mrs Gravener’s body and a note, penned by Mr Gravener, in which he apologised for his actions.
A subsequent police search resulted in officers finding Mr Gravener’s body in Carr Mill Dam shortly before 1pm.
Police said an investigation into both deaths was “ongoing” but, tellingly, detectives confirmed that they were not seeking anyone else in relation to either death.