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Doctor, wife dead in apparent murder-suicide

CROSS LANES, W.Va. -- A doctor who specialized in end-of-life care and his wife were found shot to death in their Cross Lanes home Monday. Sheriff's deputies believe the two were killed in a murder-suicide.

Neighbors identified the man in the home as Dr. Bruce Foster. His wife, Marlise Foster, was identified later. Both were in their early 60s.

Kanawha Sheriff's Cpl. Brian Humphreys said outside the home that both victims had gunshot wounds, and a gun was found in the home.

The "working theory," Humphreys said, is that the deaths are a murder-suicide. There are no other suspects, he said.

Bruce Foster's co-workers came to the Flairwood Drive home Monday because Foster hadn't shown up for work, said the Fosters' next-door neighbors, Jon and Betty Walker.

Jon Walker, who was getting ready to work on his car, helped the co-workers get into the Fosters' house, where they found the two bodies.

No one had heard from the couple since Saturday, Humphreys said.

Betty Walker said her husband told her that Bruce Foster's arm was draped over his wife's body.

"They were never apart. I've never seen such an in-love couple. They're going to be missed greatly," said Betty Walker.

She said she talked to another neighbor Monday afternoon who was close with the Fosters. That neighbor told her that Marlise Foster suffered from kidney trouble, had only one kidney for most of her life, and had been ill for the past couple of months.

According to a 2004 Gazette interview, Bruce Foster was chairman of ethics at Thomas Memorial Hospital and worked with the West Virginia Center for End-of-Life Care. A Thomas Memorial spokeswoman would not comment, and an official with the Center for End-of-Life Care said they hadn't had much contact with Foster lately.

Bruce Foster wrote a book, "Death and Dying, or Can You Love Me Enough to Let Me Go," and helped produce a DVD, "Facing Your Future."

In the 2004 interview, Foster said he learned how to handle terminally ill patients when his father was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

"I realized I had been trained all my life to cure disease. Death was an enemy," Foster said at the time. "I had never had any training on how to cooperate with disease."

He said that because of his experience, he began to give lectures about end-of-life care and treatment. Then a friend asked to put some of his thoughts into brochures, which evolved into his book, which he and his wife published.

"I kept getting asked to do more and more talks, because of my dad. I was chairman of ethics at Thomas, and I made up my mind they needed an end-of-life team, and I got the administration to OK that," Foster said in 2004.

In 2011, HospiceCare opened an inpatient unit at Thomas Memorial Hospital. At that time, a Thomas Memorial official lauded the hospital's palliative care and said Foster "is so passionate about end-of-life care."

Jon and Betty Walker both said that Bruce Foster's wife had been an office manager at his medical practice, but she had not been working there lately.

The Walkers said the Fosters were great neighbors.

"They were perfect neighbors, honestly," Jon Walker said. But he added, "As much as they were nice, they were also very private."

Betty Walker added: "Bruce was very sociable. She kept to herself."

Still, the Walkers both said that it was clear to them that the Fosters were very close, never fought or yelled at each other and were by each other's side constantly.

Jon Walker described Bruce Foster as a nice, "super bright, [and] really intellectual-type guy."

Betty Walker said she knew of "not an instance of violence between the two. They were best friends."

Staff writer Rusty Marks contributed to this report. Reach Davin White at davinwhite@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1254. Reach Kate White at kate.white@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1723.


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