The bodies of a man and a woman found at a home near Detroit Lakes have been identified as a husband and wife, and their death confirmed as a murder-suicide.
The Becker County Sheriff's Office confirmed that Stacy Lynn Stearns, 49, was shot dead by her husband, Steven Stearns, 45, who them killed himself on Tuesday morning.
Their two dogs were also found dead at their home on County Highway 6 in Lakeview Township.
It has since emerged that the couple had both been battling cancer, with Steven Stearns diagnosed with lung cancer, and Stacy Stearns stomach cancer.
The pair had celebrated their 21st wedding anniversary on Sept. 21, and one of their closest friends has told media outlets the couple had been talking about ending their lives.
The couple posted a message on their joint Facebook account just before their deaths, saying: "To our loved ones. We chose to leave this world as we lived in it. In love and together. Our only regret is the sorrow to our loved ones. Remember the laughter and happiness We love you. Goodbye."
Tammy Lawrence told the Fargo Forum that they didn't want to go through chemotherapy and that Steven Stearns' cancer was terminal. The timeline for their deaths had been brought forward due to a sudden decline in his health.
Lawrence also noted that "they wanted to go together with their dogs," who were also reportedly ill.
If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis, there is help. The Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988 provides around-the-clock free and confidential support for people in distress.