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Son says mom's death was not a mercy killing

SUN CITY, AZ (CBS5) -

David Engle ‘s 73-year-old mother was shot to death last week in her Sun City home – and, he said, there was nothing merciful about her killing.

He told CBS5 News he hadn't seen his mother, Earlene Rudolph, in two years because he lives in Hawaii.

However, he said he kept in touch with her over the phone and believes his stepfather killed her in an act of "cold-blooded murder."

"My mother was the best mother in the entire world," said Engle through his tears. "She was the most fun-loving, caring woman and grandmother that you could ever have."

According to the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, 78-year-old Howard Rudolph shot his wife of 13 years multiple times on Aug. 7.

"I believe she was killed out of anger, hatred, alcohol and a cowardly decision," Engle said.

Court documents show deputies found a bottle of Southern Comfort in the kitchen and a note under a gun that read something to the effect of "I do love her. Money goes to shelter. She is so hateful. I can't stand her any longer."

"He (Rudolph) said that she was ill and that he wanted to kill her and he killed her," said Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

According to the Phoenix Fire Department, 17 calls were made to 911 in the five weeks before Earlene Rudolph's death.

Neighbors also said they had seen ambulances at the couple's home on Saratoga Circle several times in recent weeks.

But Engle said, to his knowledge, his mother was not in poor health.

"(He) shot her with a 38-caliber handgun through her face - came out her throat into her chest and shot her three more times in the chest," Engle said. "That's coward spelled with a capital C. Then he was supposed to do it to himself, too, but he chickened out."

Howard Rudolph is charged with second-degree murder and is being held in the Lower Buckeye Jail.

Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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