Charges: Eden Prairie man helped wife commit suicide

- 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.

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