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Despondent man may have killed wife, self

Spouse had cancer, home foreclosed

By Gerard F. Russell and Craig S. Semon
Telegram & Gazette Staff / January 15, 2010

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SPENCER - Police believe that a man facing a foreclosure auction took his own life yesterday after shooting his sick wife and their horse, setting fire to their home, and torching his pickup.

Michael S. Khoury, 69, and his wife, Joyce M., 66, owned the house at 19 Woodchuck Lane, which was scheduled to be auctioned at 10 a.m.

A neighbor called 911 to report the house fire. When police arrived, they found the burning truck in the driveway and the house ablaze.

According to the office of Worcester District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr., the Khourys were found shot inside the house.

Michael Khoury was found shortly after 6:15 a.m. in the doorway of his home with a gunshot wound. He was taken to St. Vincent Hospital in Worcester, where he was pronounced dead. His wife was found dead in a bedroom, said spokesman Timothy Connolly.

A horse found in a barn on the property had been shot several times. It was taken to Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine in Grafton. Tom Keppeler, a Tufts spokesman, said the horse was able to walk into the hospital, escorted by Spencer Animal Control. The horse, a 22-year-old male, was in “stable, yet guarded, condition’’ late yesterday, Mr. Keppeler said.

According to the Worcester County Registry of Deeds, the North Brookfield Savings Bank had foreclosed on the property. An auction was to be held yesterday for the house and its 25 acres.

In addition, the couple owed the town money. Treasurer-Collector Mary C. Barrell said the property was in tax title because of unpaid property taxes. The Khourys owed about $11,000 from 2007 to 2009, she said.

A former employer said yesterday that he that had talked to Michael Khoury Monday and that he told him he was facing the imminent loss of his house and his wife.

Vincent P. Iuliano, owner of American Reclamation Corp. of Charlton, said Joyce Khoury had terminal cancer.

According to Iuliano, Michael Khoury had tried to negotiate with the bank. “He tried, but they would not accept the deal and that was last week, so he gave up,’’ Iuliano said.

Donna L. Boulanger, president and chief executive officer of North Brookfield Savings Bank, did not return a telephone call from a reporter seeking comment yesterday.

According to Iuliano, Michael Khoury’s two previous wives also died of cancer, and, about a year ago, a small commercial building on Route 20 in Charlton that Mr. Khoury owned was foreclosed on.

Asked if Khoury gave him any hint that he would do something drastic, Iuliano said, “Not even the slightest. I know he was despondent about his wife and especially when he found out the foreclosure was coming close, and he did not want to end up being homeless.’’