An elderly man in Pennsylvania brutally beat his wife to death during an argument about their pet cat’s vet bills, authorities said.
Barton Seltmann, 84, is accused of killing his 85-year-old wife, Margaret Seltmann, in their home in Lower Pottsgrove Township on Tuesday. Authorities said Barton called 911 himself to report an “unresponsive female” at their home—but responding officers found that Margaret was “obviously deceased” when they arrived.
Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin R. Steele and Lower Pottsgrove Township Police Chief Richard Bell said in a joint news release that law enforcement arriving at the home also found Barton “on the rear porch, with blood on his hands, face and clothing.” He was taken to a local hospital to receive treatment for a hand injury.
A homicide investigation was launched and detectives determined that the couple had been “arguing about money for veterinary care of their cat when the fight turned physical,” according to the release. “Evidence found on scene indicated that the victim was struck multiple times in the head while lying on the kitchen floor.” An autopsy found that Margaret had died from blunt force injuries to her head.
A probable cause affidavit says that Barton initially told 911 operators that he thought his wife was dead and that someone had “beat her,” NBC Philadelphia reports. Investigators say that he then told medics treating him at the scene that he had injured his wife during a fight, and that police officers later found a kitchen knife under her body along with glass shards from a broken candle jar.
During a police interview, Barton claimed the argument about the cat’s vet bills escalated when Margaret grabbed a knife and threatened to kill him, according to the affidavit. He claimed to have responded by pushing a chair into his wife, police say, causing her to fall and hit her head.
Barton allegedly told investigators that he then didn’t see the knife in his wife’s hand but nevertheless proceeded to punch her and hit her in the head with a candleholder. The affidavit says Barton told police his wife said “You’re killing me” during the onslaught and then “went to sleep.”
He was arrested and charged with first- and third-degree murder after the interview. Barton was remanded to the Montgomery County Correctional Facility and is due to appear at a preliminary court hearing scheduled for Dec. 5.
Family told WPVI-TV that Barton may have been dealing with memory loss issues in recent weeks and that Margaret had expressed concerns that he may have suffered dementia. Barton’s brother, Ron Seltmann, said the couple appeared to be happy and had been married for over three decades.
“There was no warning that this kind of thing could happen. None,” Ron told the station. “This just tore us apart.”
Post source: TDB