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Couple were in financial distress

A married couple who died earlier this week in what North Las Vegas police call a murder-suicide were under heavy financial strain, according to public records.

The bodies of Jeffrey L. Lingle, 38, and Graciela Mullis, 44, were found by police Monday outside a red pickup parked a few miles north of Losee Road and the Las Vegas Beltway. They both lived in Las Vegas.

Lingle’s death was the result of a gunshot wound to the head, which was ruled a suicide by the Clark County coroner’s office.

The coroner’s office identified Mullis on Thursday but had not determined her cause of death.

According to Clark County records, Mullis owned a 1,064-square-foot home in the north valley that went into foreclosure in May. Court records showed Mullis filed for bankruptcy in October 2007. The records indicated she had nearly $25,000 in medical bills.

She and Lingle married in 2005, according to county marriage records.

Neighbors said the couple had been upset about losing their home. They had sold a Ford Mustang to make ends meet, said 31-year-old Beatriz Iribe, who was the couple’s neighbor.

“She told me, ‘I’m so sad because of the house,'” Iribe recalled.

KLAS-TV, Channel 8, interviewed a friend of the couple who was not identified. The friend said Lingle recently had lost his job. The friend told the KLAS reporter that Lingle and Mullis went to the desert Monday, the day after Lingle’s birthday. The friend said Lingle wrote a suicide note about the couple’s desperation.

“We couldn’t do this anymore, and we swore we would die together,” read the note shown on Channel 8.

Debbie Gant-Reed, crisis-line coordinator for the Crisis Call Center regional suicide prevention hot line, said the nonprofit agency has seen a sharp increase in calls related to foreclosure and other financial problems.

The number of “basic needs” callers — who include people who are despondent over foreclosures, lost jobs and the inability to pay for bills, rent or food — has more than doubled in the past year, she said.

The callers “feel very helpless, especially if they’re older people who spent a lot of time working for those things,” Gant-Reed said. “They don’t feel like they can recover from that.”

Parents often call that they no longer can provide for their children, Gant-Reed said.

“Those are some of the most despondent,” she said. “They still have families to support, but no jobs.”

The center last month took 333 “basic needs” crisis calls, compared with 136 in October 2007.

About three-quarters of the center’s calls come from within Nevada, with others coming from California, Arizona and other states.

Review-Journal writers Lawrence Mower and Brian Haynes contributed to this report. Contact reporter Antonio Planas at aplanas@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4638.

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