Two sisters in Florida have been charged with killing their father after one of them confessed four years later to a man they both had a relationship with.
Linda Roberts, 62, and Mary-Beth Tomaselli, 63, were arrested Tuesday and charged with first-degree murder in the 2015 death of 85-year-old Anthony Tomaselli, according to a statement from the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.
“This is in some respects – as we sometimes call these things – it’s the perfect murder, because there was absolutely no sign of struggle, no sign of foul play,” Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said at a news conference. “He had cancer. He had dementia. He was seriously ill. … They could have easily gotten away with it.”
Deputies were called March 6, 2015, to a Palm Harbor home, where they found Anthony Tomaselli unresponsive and attempted CPR, according to police. He was pronounced dead by paramedics and no signs of foul play or criminal activity were reported.
The sisters told police that they had taken their father for a ride to the beach and that he’d fallen asleep on the couch. They claimed when they awoke the next morning, they discovered he wasn’t breathing, attempted CPR and called 911.
Because of his advanced age and medical conditions, a physician listed his cause of death as natural, meaning no autopsy would be performed.
Gualtieri said detectives began investigating Tomaselli’s death as a homicide when a man who had a sexual relationship with both of the sisters informed detectives he had a recording of Roberts confessing to murdering her father in 2015.
The man, who has not been identified by police, worked with authorities to get additional recordings from both Roberts and her sister concerning their father’s death.
According to Gualtieri, the women first attempted to give their father sleeping pills mixed with alcohol, but that didn’t work so they tried to suffocate him with a pillow. When that also didn’t work, they stuffed a rag down his throat, pinched his nose and held down his arms until he stopped breathing.
Mary-Beth Tomaselli also admitted to giving sleeping pills to her adult daughter, who was at the home that night, so that she wouldn’t witness the murder.
The women later sold their father’s home and split $120,000 in proceeds with their brother, who was not involved in the murder, Gualtieri said.
Both women repeatedly referred to the killing as “premeditated,” saying that they “euthanized” their father because he was going to die soon and refused to live in an assisted living facility, according to police.
“It’s terrible that they put that much effort and thought into killing their dad,” Gualtieri said. “Thankfully, they’re not getting away with it.”
Follow N’dea Yancey-Bragg on Twitter: @NdeaYanceyBragg
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