BERLIN — An elderly couple’s apparent planned murder-suicide shocked many in the Berlin community this week, but many are finding comfort in their memories of the long-time residents.
Early Wednesday morning, around 8, the Berlin Police Department received a call in reference to a shooting. Along with Berlin officers, the Worcester County Bureau of Investigation (WCBI) responded to the scene at 603 Williams Street as well as the Maryland State Police Homicide Unit.
Worcester County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Ed Schreier confirmed at noon on Wednesday that authorities believe the male resident of the house, Lester Wright, 89, shot his wife, Ada, 90, and then attempted to kill himself. Lester Wright was found alive on the scene and was reportedly speaking to first responders before dying a short time later at PRMC in Salisbury.
“They are investigating this as a suspected murder-suicide. A female was shot twice. The male had what appeared to be three self-inflicted gunshot wounds. He was transported to PRMC and died at PRMC. She was found deceased in the residence,” Schreier said. “It’s still currently being investigated.”
Schreier said part of the probe is determining a possible motive for the incident.
“At this point in time, we do not have any of that information,” Schreier said. “We can’t speculate as to the reason why at this point.”
While the official investigation continues, knowledge sources and acquaintances of the couple are grieving. Many community members hope the couple will be remembered for the lives they lived rather than simply the ending.
Lester Wright, 89, and Ada “Midge” Wright, 90, purchased their Berlin home in 1965, according to land records. Lester Wright was a former auto dealership owner on Old Ocean City Blvd, and Ada “Midge” Wright spent 25 years working at The Moore Companies, a landscaping business based in Berlin off Broad Street.
According to sources close to the Wrights, the couple was in the process of selling their home, which was meticulously kept inside and outside. A settlement was planned on Thursday with the property being purchased by well-known residential and commercial property owner Ernie Gerardi. The couple was expected to move to an assisted living facility on Friday.
Berlin Mayor Gee Williams knew the Wrights practically his entire life. He grew up next to their dealership on Old Ocean City Blvd. and has fond memories of them as a child as well as an adult.
“I am proud to say I knew them since I was a kid. Mr. and Mrs. Wright were just as nice as any folks you would ever want to meet,” Williams said. “My first vehicle that Betsy and I ever bought came from Mr. and Mrs. Wright. It’s kind of a misnomer to say they were a ‘childless’ couple. In reality, they knew young people all over this town, and were extremely well thought of by kids. The kids would come into their dealership, and Mr. and Mrs. Wright always embraced them, letting them get in and out of the cars on the lot … The last time I saw them was over the Christmas holidays at the Atlantic Hotel. You could see they were in failing health, but they were very positive, and that’s the way I am going to remember them.”
Rather than focus on the means in which the couple ended their lives, Williams said he will focus in the days and weeks ahead on his many memories of the Wrights while they were alive.
“Personally, as much as I’m hurt by the loss, the way they chose to leave this life is something that’s really between them and God,” Williams said. “None of us can put ourselves in their shoes. We don’t know what physical or psychological issues they were having to deal with. I think we should remember them for the way they lived, rather than the way they died.”
Another friend of the Wrights’ wishing to remain anonymous summed up their deaths this week as “a classic Romeo and Juliet love story.”