Charges: Eden Prairie man helped wife commit suicide

Charges: Eden Prairie man helped wife commit suicide

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (KMSP) – An Eden Prairie, Minnesota man has been charged with a felony for allegedly helping his wife commit suicide last week. 

Thomas James Houck, 61, was charged with aiding suicide. He faces up to 15 years in prison and a $30,000 fine.

According to the criminal complaint, around 2:20 a.m. last Thursday, Houck called 911 claiming he woke up in the middle of the night and discovered his wife “euthanized herself” by using nitrogen and placing a plastic bag over her head.

When officers arrived they found her wearing the bag, which was connected by a tube to a nitrogen tank. Near her, they found a handwritten note, which stated she “could not endure any more pain” and needed to escape it. Houck told investigators his wife had been experiencing pain from an unknown cause and medication was not helping.

Houck told police he helped his wife search for suicide methods and on Wednesday he went with her to the store to buy nitrogen and a regulator, but denied helping her with the actual act. He told investigators he threw out the receipts. Surveillance video showed the two buying the items and a sales worker who police spoke with remembered the exchange.

After police executed a search warrant, Houck admitted to helping his wife make a hood out of a plastic bag by using a diagram they found on the internet. He told police he was with her when she put on the bag and he turned on the nitrogen gas until the tank emptied. After she passed away, he went to a nearby store and threw out the gloves he wore during the incident as well as some other items. Surveillance video shows Houck throwing out the items. He told police he knew what he did was illegal. He tried to rest, but he called 911 a few hours after the incident.

Houck is in custody at Hennepin County Jail. 

Houck’s first court appearance is scheduled for Tuesday.

8 Responses

  1. He should not be charged the ones who let her suffer to the point she couldn’t take the pain any longer they are the true murders not her husband
    So many chronic pain PATIENTS are taking there own lives because of being taken off pain medications or down on them.. the person responsible for all this is your MURDER

  2. I did think to myself, great idea as I deal with pain and the lack of care from doctors daily but the truth is with the info given you can only assume what happened which nowadays is typical of journalism. I got s much from the headline as I did from the rest. If he was assisting the he is a man doing what he said he would do in his vows. Be there till the end a support her. If he is a murderer he is just another sob looking for an excuse.

    • Anon; yep. hard to tell what really happened, as it is with almost anything you see in the media. I actually learned this vividly as a freshman in college; there were NYT screaming front page headlines about an incident that supposedly happened right next to me. (it didn’t). Turned out to be the epitome of nothing being spun into Huge Dire Something. I’ve been rather wary ever since…

  3. Such a relatable story! A cautionary tale about helping someone out of this pain nightmare. Who were her physicians? What was her diagnoses? This article seems long on blame & short on detail.

  4. Who should be in jail really? Which doctor wouldn’t treat pain?

  5. This sounds very appealing and trauma free.Thanx for posting it.Really hope I dont have to do this….

    • Andrew;
      utterly terrifying and beyond criminal that we’ve gotten to the point where “peaceful” methods of suicide we run across on the internet are more helpful to us than our own doctors or health system, isn’t it.

      Depressingly, I suspect my first reaction was much like yours probably was; that is, more “Hmm…..there’s an idea, just in case” than “What a tragedy!”

      There’s some stuff missing from this story (like, had they tried to have her pain treated? Among others). Not that she could get diddly in the way of help nowadays, no matter what was wrong with the poor woman. But the fact that she was apparently in on the project makes me feel a bit less awful, like maybe it was an attempt at compassion. If he’d bought the works by himself, I’d suspect he just got rid of an inconvenient spouse & blamed it on pain because pain is much in the news.

      Wonder when the “opioid epidemic” will pop up in this story…you just know it’ll come in somehow, even if the woman never touched any in her life. Maybe they’ll come up with a new category: future addicts –those who MAY become addicted to SOMETHING, SOMEDAY, but she chose to kill herself before she fell to the evils of addiction. Really scary that I can picture that popping up in the national narrative; heaven knows just about every other idiotic, asinine, insane thing has.

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