OAKLAND -- A World War II veteran recently diagnosed with a terminal illness shot and killed his quadriplegic daughter before turning the gun on himself early Monday in their home near Dimond Park, police and family members said.
William K. Roberts, 88, and his daughter Marian, 57, were found dead about 4:30 a.m. by the man's son, who also lived at the home and was asleep when the shooting happened, police said.
A gun was recovered at the scene, police said. The son, Thomas Roberts, said a note was not left.
"I'm distraught," said Thomas Roberts, 59. "I woke up to the sound of two gunshots."
The elder Roberts had developed pneumonia in March, and unsuccessfully tried to medicate it using over-the-counter drugs, his son said. It worsened to the point where he needed an oxygen tank to breathe and he was put in hospice care at home, his son said.
For the dying war veteran, a paratrooper in the 101st Airborne Division who fought the Nazis in the Battle of the Bulge, the illness "was almost unbearable, like waterboarding -- to not be able to breathe," according to his son.
"He said it was torture," Thomas Roberts said.
His sister, Marian, also had daily struggles after falling down concrete stairs in Maui in 1987. She suffered traumatic brain injury, never regaining much bodily function, and struggling to drink water and talk, according to the family. They moved to the home in Oakland's Oakmore District in 1987. The father and son took care of her daily.
"They took impeccable care of her," said longtime neighbor Patricia Sam, a registered nurse. "She was not a neglected daughter by any stretch of the imagination. I know Bill absolutely adored his daughter. He just did what he thought was the right thing to do. I know it was out of mercy, it wasn't out of violence."
On their final night alive together, the father was sleepy and his daughter excited to watch her beloved San Francisco 49ers at the start of the NFL season.
"Sometimes it gets a little rough," Thomas Roberts said of his family's day-to-day life. "I guess my dad figured it had gotten too hard to do."