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EMT Tried to Treat Wife, Killed Her

A Jeffersonville, Ind., man who worked as an emergency medical technician for a private ambulance company has been charged with murdering his ill wife earlier this year by trying to treat her himself.

Michael A. Whitehead, 26, was arrested Wednesday night by Indiana State Police on charges of murder, domestic violence, wanton endangerment, tampering with physical evidence, theft by unlawful taking, theft of an unlawful drug and practicing medicine without a license. He was being held in the Clark County jail awaiting extradition to Louisville, where his wife died.

"He was trying to practice his own medicine, and he thought he was doing the right thing," said Lt. Barry Wilkerson, head of the Louisville Metro Police homicide unit.

On March 26, Ashley Whitehead was taken to Sts. Mary&Elizabeth Hospital in Louisville after she suffered a seizure and stopped breathing, Wilkerson said. She died later that day at the hospital.

Because Ashley Whitehead was only 24, Louisville police were called in to conduct a death investigation, Wilkerson said.

Detective Scott Russ began to question some of the details he was being told, especially since Russ has a background as an emergency medical technician, Wilkerson said.

A medical examiner's report showed that Ashley Whitehead died of combined drug intoxication, said Jo-Ann Farmer, Jefferson County chief deputy coroner. The two drugs in her system were hydrocodone, an opiate pain reliever, and promethazine, also known by the brand name Phenergan, which is an antihistamine and is used to combat nausea.

Michael Whitehead is accused of giving the prescription drugs to his wife in an effort to help her with an illness, Wilkerson said. He would not elaborate on the illness.

Wilkerson said police believe he stole the drugs from the ambulance service to give to his wife, which prompted the theft charges.

Wilkerson would not say which private service Michael Whitehead worked for or whether he still worked there at the time of his arrest.

Michael Whitehead was certified as an EMT and was studying to be a paramedic, Wilkerson said. Paramedics are taught to administer certain drugs as medical treatment, where EMTs have only a limited ability to give patients medicine.

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