(CBS/AP) SAN DIEGO - Authorities say 88-year-old Alan Purdy was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of helping his wife kill herself.
Relatives say Purdy doted on his sick wife, caring for her in their San Diego home through several years of illness. The couple's son-in-law, John Muster, said it wasn't the first time Purdy's wife, Margaret "Jo" Purdy, 84, had tried to commit suicide.
""She had mentioned for some time that she was under a great deal of pain and that this was a very hard life," Muster said Wednesday in a telephone interview from Berkeley. "It was a great life. I loved her dearly and I'm sorry she's gone. I'm not going to second-guess her choice."
Muster did not know the circumstances of her death or of a previous suicide attempt.
Alan Purdy was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of aiding a suicide after paramedics found his wife dead inside their home in San Marcos, the San Diego County Sheriff's Department said. He was released on $15,000 bail.
Margaret Purdy had a bag over her head and died from asphyxia, said Michael Ellano, an investigator for the San Diego County medical examiner's office. The was ruled a suicide.
Ellano declined to comment on what role Purdy's husband had in her death, if any.
The district attorney's office will decide whether to file criminal charges after the sheriff's department completes its investigation, said spokesman Steve Walker. Sheriff's Lt. Larry Nesbit said he expected to deliver its findings within days.
The Purdys were close friends for many years and proved a perfect match when they married later in life, relatives said.
"They walked hand in hand," said James Purdy, a brother. "They were very affectionate people," said Lois Purdy, a sister-in-law.
Margaret Purdy kept a close eye on her husband, who in turn, watched after her as she battled a series of ailments in recent years.