Two sisters in Florida would have "easily gotten away" with murdering their 85-year-old father in 2015 had they not recently confessed to their alleged crime to a man they were both in a sexual relationship with, authorities said.
Linda Roberts, 62, and Mary-Beth Tomaselli, 63, were charged with first-degree murder on Tuesday, exactly four years after they allegedly killed their ailing father, Anthony Tomaselli, on March 5, 2015.
"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."
In the early hours of March 6, 2015, deputies responded to reports of a deceased person at a home in Palm Harbor. Paramedics found Anthony unresponsive and performed CPR on him. He was pronounced dead at the scene, and deputies did not suspect foul play or any criminal activity at the time.
Both sisters told authorities at the time that they had taken their father for a ride to the beach the previous evening. They said that on returning home, he fell asleep on the couch. When they went to check on him the next morning, they said he wasn't breathing. The sisters told deputies that they tried to perform CPR on him and called 911.
Their father's primary care physician signed the death certificate and listed the cause of death as natural, given Anthony's age and medical history, including cancer, dementia, and the use of a pacemaker.
There was no autopsy or examination of the body because of his presumed natural death, and the case was closed, Gualtieri said.
Last year, around August or September, Mary-Beth began a sexual relationship with a man she met at a bar, according to Gualtieri. She then introduced the man to her sister, Linda, who is married. Linda also began a sexual relationship with the man, whom authorities did not identify.
The man began noticing Linda's "odd behavior" and knew that something was troubling her, Gualtieri said.
On Feb. 12, Linda told the man that she and Mary-Beth had "euthanized" their father and provided specific details about how they did it.
The man recorded the conversation on his cellphone and reported it to the sheriff's office the next day, providing them with an audio-and-video copy of Linda's alleged confession.
The man then cooperated with authorities to obtain additional recordings of the two sisters, in which they stated that the killing was "premeditated” and that they “euthanized” their father because he was going to die within a couple months and would not live in an assisted living facility.
According to the recordings, the sisters originally planned to give their father a glass of alcohol with "an excessive amount of sleeping pills" in the hope that it would kill him. However, Mary-Beth diluted the mixture with too much alcohol, so the pills were not effective.
Linda then tried to suffocate their father by placing a pillow over his face, but that didn't work either, Gualtieri said.
She finally stuffed a rag down his throat while Mary-Beth pinched his nose and held his arms down until he stopped breathing and died, authorities said.
Mary-Beth was recorded saying that she gave her adult daughter — who was in the house at the time of the alleged murder — sleeping pills to "knock her out" so she wouldn't be awake to see them kill her grandfather.
The two sisters then went to bed and left their dead father on the couch all night, Gualtieri said.
The women said that they “faked” finding their father dead the next morning and staged the act of providing him CPR and calling 911 for help, according to the recordings.
In her own words, Mary-Beth described feeling "weird" after killing their father, because he still had a pulse owing to his pacemaker, despite being dead.
Last week, Linda told the man they were sleeping with that her husband had recently been arrested for domestic violence and that she "wanted her husband dead too," according to Gualtieri.
The two sisters sold their father's home and split a profit of $120,000 between themselves and their brother, who was not involved in the alleged murder, authorities said.
Gualtieri said that the alleged crime would have never come to light had Linda not confessed to the man "she had been having a casual sexual relationship with."
The sheriff also praised the man for coming forward and cooperating with authorities.
"It's terrible they put that much effort and thought into killing their dad," Gualtieri said. "And thankfully they're not getting away with it."