Man charged with murder after allegedly choking wife to death at Independence hospital

A man was charged with murder after allegedly choking his wife to death in an Independence hospital Saturday night.

Jackson County prosecutors charged Ronnie J. Wiggs of Independence with second-degree murder Sunday after he allegedly choked the woman to death while she was at Centerpoint Medical Center, 19600 E. 39th St. S., to get a new port for her dialysis.

A uniformed Independence police officer working off-duty at the hospital responded to an assault on the sixth floor in the intensive care unit around 11:22 p.m., according to a probable cause statement.

The victim was unresponsive and a Code Blue had been called earlier in the night around 8:30 p.m. Once a pulse was regained, she had been moved to the second floor of the ICU.

Wiggs allegedly told medical staff that he killed and choked the woman. A witness told detectives that the victim had been in her room and well as of 7:30 p.m., but when she checked on the woman an hour later, she initiated a Code Blue at the hospital, according to the probable cause statement.

Another witness told detectives there appeared to be suspicious injuries to the victim, including redness on the sides of her neck and a “fresh wound” in the middle of her throat, according to the probable cause statement. The witness allegedly said those injuries wouldn’t have been caused by resuscitation efforts.

An additional witness, who said he was the victim’s son, later received a call that his mom was found unresponsive in her room and had no pulse or brain activity. Hospital staff told him they tried to contact Wiggs, but he told them his vehicle wasn’t working.

The witness told detectives he picked up Wiggs and brought him to the hospital to be with the victim. At that point, Wiggs allegedly told the witness and a nurse he had killed his wife by choking her.

The Independence police officer arrested Wiggs and placed him on an investigative hold for first-degree domestic assault. At the time, the victim had not been pronounced dead.

Investigators later learned the woman had no brain function and that medical staff would discontinue life-saving measures, according the probable cause statement.

Wiggs allegedly told detectives he left the hospital after choking his wife and said he attempted to kill her two other times while she was hospitalized, including when she was at a rehabilitation facility for medical issues.

He allegedly told detectives that he killed the victim because he was depressed and couldn’t care for her or afford her medical bills anymore.