Donald Schaffer ID'd as killer of Joyce, wife of 43 years, in Wheatridge Manor murder-suicide (2)

Update: The Wheat Ridge Police Department has now identified the principals in a Sunday murder suicide at the Wheatridge Manor nursing home as Donald Schaffer, 66, and Joyce Schaffer, 69, who'd been living at the facility for ten months.

The couple were married for 43 years -- and their loved ones are shocked by the way their love story ended.

According to a release from public information officer Lisa Spinder, with whom we spoke earlier today, Donald brought a handgun into the center and shot Joyce as she lay in bed. He then killed himself with the same weapon.

Joyce had become a Wheatridge Manor resident after breaking her hip. Their relatives believe the extended convalescence period is the likely motive for this startling final act.

In a statement, their loved ones write, "They were very much in love and after being separated for the last several months, we believe they are finally back together."

Here's a photo of Donald and Joyce during much happier times, followed by our previous coverage:

Update, 8:59 a.m. May 21: Just reached Lisa Spinder, public information officer for the Wheat Ridge Police Department, in relation to two deaths at the Wheatridge Manor Care Center yesterday.

Thus far, Spinder hasn't been given the go-ahead to release the names of the deceased. However, she says, "It appears to be a murder-suicide -- and it looks pretty cut-and-dried at this time."

Spinder says she received a call about the incident at around 4:30 p.m. yesterday, meaning that it took place a short time earlier. She confirms reports that the husband entered the nursing home and shot his wife, who was a resident there, before turning the gun on himself. They were both in their sixties, she notes.

Investigators cleared the crime scene last evening, Spinder adds, and will be conducting interviews this morning and throughout the day. Before long, she believes, "we'll hopefully know if there's more to it than we currently see. It's a very sad situation."

Continue reading to see our original coverage.

Original item, 6:11 a.m. May 21: Wheatridge Manor Care Center, whose website notes that the nursing home recently celebrated its fortieth anniversary, was the scene of a shocking tragedy yesterday.

The incident involves an apparent murder-suicide, in which a husband shot his wife to death, then did the same to himself.

Thus far, the names of the victim and her shooter have not been released at this writing. All we know at this point is that both were dead on arrival after being transported to a nearby hospital.

Here's an interactive graphic showing the area near the center. If you have problems seeing the image, click "View Larger Map."

View Larger Map

Follow and like the Michael Roberts/Westword Facebook page.

More from our Mile HIgh Murder archive: "49 homicides in year three of Mile High Murder: See where they happened."

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts