A man who was deeply in debt from student loans shot himself last week after his mother was found murdered in her bed and his father died from an “accident.”
John Conrad Wagner, 32, killed himself in his apartment in Philadelphia after authorities began suspecting he had been involved in the shooting of his mother, Carolyn.
After they began suspecting he killed his mother, they also began suspecting he was involved in the death of his father, after he traveled with him to Mount Rainier in Washington state and he “fell.”
Police believe Wagner killed his mother and father because he was having financial difficulties, mainly due to large student loans he took out during law school that would take him 20 years to pay back.
The death of his parents meant he would inherit their assets and bank accounts, which might have helped him pay for the loan. But authorities aren’t certain of this motive, as he left behind no note.
“We’ll never know his motive,” Marion County Sheriff’s Capt. Robert Sandlin said. “What is our opinion? Financial. He had a lot of student loans that were outstanding.”
Wagner graduated from Florida State University and received a law degree from Villanova. He then stayed in Philadelphia despite struggling to find a job.
He then landed a job at a law firm, but felt like he couldn’t start his dream of having a family because his loan debt took up much of his income.
“Carolyn was hopeful that he would get married, settle down and get a permanent job,” family friend Patty Batsch said. “It’s just that he had some student-loan debt that was heavy. It was taking up a lot of his salary. He just felt like he couldn’t.”
After his father slipped and fell to his death during a trip with Wagner, his mother was found shot to death in December shortly after he drove to visit her in Florida.
Her neighbors discovered she had died after they noticed they had not seen her in days.
Authorities found John Wagner was the last person to see his mother alive and so asked him to come in for questioning.
Officers asked him about the shooting, but he told them he had never owned a gun. Upon returning to Philadelphia, however, he reported to police that a 9 mm Ruger handgun he owned was stolen.
Shell casings found at the scene matched the bullets fired from a 9 mm Ruger.
Investigators went to his house with a search warrant and found his Internet search history to include “who did the shooting,” and information about guns and forensics.
They went to arrest him on January 31, but found him dead.
“Law school isn’t worth killing your mother over,” a neighbor said. “Whatever the motive was, nobody will ever know, because only he knows what made him do it.”