SOUTHINGTON - The 60-year-old man who authorities believe fatally shot his wife Wednesday was recently diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, and his wife of 40 years frequented the home after they separated to make sure he was safe, family members said.
Family members said Donna Honaker, 58, frequently checked on her husband's welfare since he was diagnosed about six months ago and then filed for divorce because, among other reasons, he believed she was poisoning his food.
"She would tell me some days he seemed normal and other days he seemed sick," said Honaker's sister, Denise Hill. "She told me 'I wouldn't walk away from him if he had a physical illness and I'm not walking away from him now.'"
No charges were filed against Royce Honaker, 60, on Wednesday. He is being held in the Trumbull County Jail on suspicion of murder.
Authorities said Honaker fatally shot his wife at about 1 p.m. Wednesday at his 4480 County Line Turnpike Road home. He called 911 shortly after and told the dispatcher he killed his wife, gave the address, and hung up.
An autopsy is scheduled for Thursday. If ruled a homicide, it will be the eighth in Trumbull County since July 5.
Family members said Donna and Royce Honaker had "the perfect marriage." They were high school sweethearts who married young and took care of each other for 40 years. They had four children and several grandchildren.
Royce Honaker's sister, Dorothy Cecil, of Lumberport, W.Va., said the two would stay at her house when they made the trip to visit Donna Honaker's father and the couple would stop at Mountaineer on their way back, something they enjoyed doing together. Both retired from Ford's Walton Hills plant.
Cecil said Royce Honaker always made sure to pack brownies for the trip, his wife's favorite dessert, and Donna Honaker packed her husband's favorite snack, pepperoni rolls.
"They were living the golden life," Cecil said. "We just don't understand what happened."
About six months ago, Royce Honaker started acting differently, the family said. They said Donna Honaker told them her husband installed security cameras and motion sensor lights for the outside of their home. He boarded up windows because he believed people were hiding in the woods watching him.
Hill said he drove around the block several times because he believed he was being followed. Cecil said he changed the locks on the doors and stopped playing with his grandchildren.
He also started thinking Donna Honaker was part of the problem. Royce Honaker would only speak to his wife in a closet or outside the home because he believed the house was bugged, Hill said.
Family members said Donna Honaker took Royce Honaker to Trumbull Memorial Hospital's psychiatric ward to be evaluated. Royce Honaker checked himself out after only a few days.
Hill said he refused to take his medication or get treatment.
"The doctors asked her to please not release him because he could turn on her," Cecil said.
Cecil said he stopped eating food prepared by wife because he believed she poisoned it. In April, he filed for divorce.
Cecil said Donna Honaker believed she could eventually find help for her husband and the divorce proceedings would blow over. She still loved him, the family members said.
Cecil said when she moved out, Donna Honaker asked her husband if he was sure he wanted her to leave.
"She said he looked at her so cold and said, 'I don't trust you anymore,'" Cecil said.
She saw him whenever he called and invited her home. Sometimes she brought lunch, other times they watched movies together. At some point, Honaker became scared to be in the house alone with her husband, the family said.
Cecil said on Tuesday, the day before Donna Honaker was fatally shot, she visited Royce Honaker. She told Cecil they talked and that she knew they would never be together again.
"She knew there was something wrong with him," Cecil said. "When she looked into his eyes, it scared her to death."
Both family members said they, along with the rest of the family, were devastated.
"The only thing she did wrong," Hill said, "was love her husband."