Two sisters from Florida almost got away with the “perfect murder,” according to police.
Linda Roberts, 62, and Mary-Beth Tomaselli, 63, were charged with first-degree murder on Tuesday, four years after they allegedly killed their father, Anthony Tomaselli, on March 5, 2015, in their Palm Harbor home.
Authorities initially believed the ailing 85-year-old man died of natural causes due to “an extensive medical history,” but began investigating his death as a homicide last month after an unidentified man whom both sisters were sexually involved with provided police with a recording in which Roberts confessed to their alleged crime. Cooperating with police, the man eventually got even more recordings, from both Roberts and Mary-Beth Tomaselli, in which the women said their sick dad was going to die in a few months’ time and refused to live out his final days in an assisted living facility — so they “euthanized” him, according to 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 press conference Tuesday. “He had cancer, he had dementia, he was seriously ill. ... They could have easily gotten away with it.”
Gualtieri said the women admitted to the crime while being interviewed by detectives and are being held at the Pinellas County Jail.
Early on March 6, 2015, deputies responded to reports of a deceased person at a home in Palm Harbor. Roberts and Mary-Beth Tomaselli, who were present at the home, said that their father fell asleep on the couch the night before and when they checked on him in the morning, he wasn’t breathing. The sisters said they performed CPR and called 911. At the time, deputies did not suspect foul play or any criminal activity. Due to Anthony Tomaselli’s illnesses and age, his primary care physician signed his death certificate and listed the cause of death as natural. There was no autopsy performed on the body, Gualtieri said.
Police said that on the boyfriend’s recordings, the sisters can be heard discussing details of the plot, including initial failed attempts that included a cocktail of alcohol and sleeping pills.
At the press conference, Gualtieri recounted other details from the recordings: The cocktail did not work because the pills were diluted in too much alcohol. The women then said they tried to suffocate their father with a pillow. When that didn’t work, Roberts allegedly stuffed a rag down her dad’s throat as Mary-Beth Tomaselli allegedly pinched his nose and held down his arms until their father died.
Mary-Beth Tomaselli also said on the recording that she gave her adult daughter, who was home during the time of the alleged murder, sleeping pills so she wouldn’t catch them in the act.
The sisters then went to bed and left their dead dad on the couch all night, Gualtieri said.
Police said that on the recordings, the sisters said they “faked” suddenly finding their father dead the next morning and staged performing CPR and calling 911.
The boyfriend also had a recording in which Roberts, who is married, told him that her husband had recently been arrested for domestic violence, that their assets had been put in her name and that she “wanted her husband dead too,” according to Gualtieri.
After their father’s death, the sisters and their brother sold their dad’s home and split a $120,000 profit. The brother was not involved in the crime, according to authorities.
Gualtieri said that the crime would have never come to light if Roberts had not “run [her] mouth” to a man she was having a “casual sexual relationship with.”
“It’s terrible that they put that much effort and thought into killing their dad,” Gualtieri said. “And thankfully they’re not getting away with it.”