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An investigation into an apparent murder-suicide involving two elderly people in McMinn County began with a disturbing phone call.

The sheriff's office says Tuesday night, someone from a Riceville home called 911, said "murder-suicide" and then hung up the phone. Dispatchers tried to call the number back, but could not get through.

When they arrived at the house, 67-year-old Catherine Dickson answered the door. She said she couldn't find her husband.

A short time later, deputies found 65-year-old Kenneth Dickson dead in the backyard with a self-inflicted gun shot wound. Deputies say his 85-year-old aunt was smothered in her bed. They are investigating the deaths as a murder-suicide.

According to investigators, Dickson had recently assumed care of his aunt who was a stroke victim.

Sheriff Joe Guy says their relationship was strained.

"She just sort of demanded a certain level of care due to her health problems that perhaps, and we're speculating a little bit here, that the pressure of that just wore on him for some reason, and that caused him to do what he did," said the sheriff.

Deputies say Dickson did not have a criminal past.

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