hacienda heights

Los Angeles County sheriff's investigators probe an apparent murder-suicide that left three people dead in Hacienda Heights. (Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times / May 1, 2013)

Three people dead in an apparent murder-suicide in Hacienda Heights were all suffering from long-term illnesses, said a relative of the victims.

Jim Crabtree went to the home in the 15900 block of Ladysmith Street on Wednesday after seeing news reports of a triple-homicide, he told KTLA News.

Crabtree said he was married to Rita Delehanty, 62, who along with her father-in-law and mother-in-law, Don and Carol Crabtree, all suffered long-term ailments. Delehanty and Don Crabtree, 84, were suffering from early onset Alzheimer’s disease, Crabtree told reporters. Carol Crabtree, 80, suffered from chronic joint pain and was confined to a wheelchair.

"This is the classic ending of three people with terminal illnesses," Crabtree told reporters gathered outside the home. "The pain and misery that comes from this dementia, until you’ve lived it you don’t get it."

Crabtree had dropped his wife off every day at his parents' house for six years, since she was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's disease, he said.

He said his wife of 25 years no longer recognized him.

Police believe that about 9 a.m. the eldest Crabtree shot his wife in her bedroom and then his daughter-in-law in the living room before turning the gun on himself in the backyard, NBC reported. He died en route to the hospital. A handgun and shotgun were found near him in the backyard, police told The Times.

Coroner's officials confirmed the identity of the three and said autopsies will likely be performed Friday.

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Joseph.serna@latimes.com

@josephserna