LONDON, Ky. – A Kentucky man called 911 just minutes after killing his wife, sobbing and confessing to a dispatcher that he fatally shot the cancer-stricken woman, and asking to take a last look at her before his arrest, according to recordings released Thursday.
Ernest Chris Chumbley, 48, cries throughout the 16-minute call placed around 2:30 a.m. Wednesday and says he shot the woman twice in the face with a .32-caliber handgun in their southeastern Kentucky home. He said in a jailhouse interview after the shooting that he shot his wife to end her pain from terminal breast cancer.
"Give me police, I'm under arrest," Chumbley says on the call.
Chumbley has pleaded not guilty to a murder charge and is being held in jail on a $200,000 bond. He is being kept in a single isolation cell, which is monitored continuously by video, Laurel County Jailer Jamie Mosley said Thursday afternoon.
Police found 44-year-old Virginia Chumbley's body in the bedroom when they arrived.
Defense attorney Kelly Ridings said Thursday that it was too early in the case to comment. Chumbley has a court hearing on Tuesday.
Chumbley left the gun in the bedroom and told police he was unarmed. He told the 911 dispatcher that his wife was a cancer patient and was supposed to go to the doctor the next day.
"Two shots, that's all I did to her," he said.
Near the end of the call, he asks the dispatcher if he can go to his wife's body in the bedroom, but he is told not to move.
"Can I go see her? I want to go see my wife," he said, but then agreed not to go to the bedroom.
Chumbley told WKYT-TV from jail that his wife wanted him to end her pain, and he told her he could offer her "what the doctor gave you."
"She said `No, I want you to stop my pain for good,"' Chumbley told the news station. Mosley said Chumbley has declined further interviews from the jail.
Neighbors in the small subdivision near the Appalachian foothills said that the husband and wife were a happy couple, but that Virginia Chumbley's cancer had taken a harsh toll in recent years.
"They seem like a normal family. We were just all shocked that it happened," said Cheryl Cobb, who lives next door.
Stan Campbell, another neighbor, said the couple loved each other dearly. But the cancer put a strain on their lives, and the Chumbleys filed for bankruptcy in 2009.
"In my opinion, I think she might have talked him into doing that because she was hurting so bad," Campbell said. "She was in real bad shape. I know she was hurting."
Neighbors awoke to police lights, and some saw Chumbley being led away in handcuffs.
"He had a lot of pressure on him," Campbell said. "He loved his wife so good he would do anything for her."