PALM HARBOR, Fla. (AP) - Four years after their 85-year-old ailing father died, his two daughters are accused of killing him in his Florida home.
It was the "perfect murder" until the scheme came unraveled when Mary-Beth Tomaselli, 63, and Linda Roberts, 61, became romantically involved with the same man, Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri told news outlets on Tuesday. The sisters have been charged with first-degree murder.
The sheriff said the man, whose identity wasn't made public, contacted investigators in February, saying a woman he was dating confessed that she and her sister killed their father. He explained that he met Tomaselli at a bar in August. Sometime later, she introduced him to her sister, Roberts, and he became involved with her as well.
The Tampa Bay Times reports the man told detectives that Roberts acted "odd" and "it was clear something was troubling her." On Feb. 12, he went to Roberts' home and she confessed to "euthanizing" her father, Gualtieri said.
The man used his cellphone to video Roberts detailing what she said happened on March 5, 2015.
The sheriff said the sisters both knew Anthony Tomaselli might die soon and he'd made it clear he didn't want to go to an assisted living facility. So, Guiltieri said, the women decided to make it appear that he had died in his sleep.
He said the women gave their father a sleeping pill enhanced alcoholic drink. But the alcohol diluted the pills, Guiltieri said. As he lay on the couch with labored breathing, the women used a pillow to try to suffocate him. When that didn't work, they shoved a rag down his throat and pinched his nose until he stopped breathing, he said.
Paramedics pronounced the man dead the next morning when they were called to the home.
Deputies interviewed both sisters separately and they both said their father fell asleep on the couch and when they went to check on him, they couldn't wake him. His long-time doctor agreed to declare that the man had died a natural death.
Investigators said the sisters faked the story, staging his body, performing CPR and eventually calling 911.
Gualtieri said they got away with it because no autopsy was performed due to his age and health history.
After his death, the sisters and their brother, who played no role in the scheme, sold the house and split the $120,000 profit, Gualtieri said.
When detectives questioned the sisters recently, they both confessed. Gualtieri said Mary-Beth Tomaselli in particular "spilled her guts."
"They clearly knew what they were doing," Gualtieri said.
It's unclear if the women have lawyers.