Palm Harbor, Florida: 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.”
As far as the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office was concerned, 85-year-old Anthony Tomaselli died of natural causes on March 6, 2015.
For four years, Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said there was nothing to indicate foul play in the death of the elderly Palm Harbor man, who had dementia, cancer and heart problems that required a pacemaker.
His daughters had taken him to the beach the day before. Exhausted from the trip, he laid on the couch in his family room and seemingly died in his sleep. Paramedics arrived the next morning and declared Tomaselli dead of natural causes. The case was promptly closed.
Then, last month, Tomaselli’s daughters confessed the truth to the lover they shared. He contacted the sheriff’s office and said told deputies that Tomaselli had not died of natural causes, said Gualtieri. “They had killed him.”
Nearly four years to the day their father died, Linda Roberts, 61, and Mary-Beth Tomaselli, 62, were charged with his first-degree murder on Monday.
“They nearly got away with it,” said Gualtieri. “It was the, quote, perfect crime.”
Gualtieri said the plot began to crumble on Aug. 18, 2018, when Mary-Beth Tomaselli met a man at a bar and they began sleeping together. She introduced the man, whose name was not disclosed, to her married sister, Linda, and they also began a sexual relationship.
Then, on Feb. 12, Linda Roberts confessed to the man that their father hadn’t died of natural causes. She told him that they had “euthanized” him.
The lover promptly began recording her confession on his cellphone, which he took to the sheriff’s office the next day.
Gualtieri said his office launched an investigation during which the witness recorded more details of the sisters’ confession.
First they gave sleeping pills to Mary-Beth Tomaselli’s adult daughter so she wouldn’t witness what they were doing to her grandfather.
Then, after Anthony Tomaselli fell asleep on the couch following the trip to the beach, they plied him with alcohol and sleeping pills. However, Mary-Beth Tomaselli used too much alcohol. It diluted the effect of the sleeping pills and Tomaselli did not die.
So Linda Roberts tried to suffocate her father with a pillow, said Gualtieri. That also failed to kill him.
Finally, Roberts stuffed a rag down his throat while her sister pinched their father’s nose shut and held his arms down until he stopped breathing. Even then, they weren’t sure he was dead because they could still detect a heartbeat. Then they realized it was his pacemaker still beating.
“That’s a terrible way to go,” said Gualtieri.
Early the next morning, he said, the sisters pretended to be alarmed at finding their father dead. They began CPR and called the paramedics.
Gualtieri said money wasn’t a motive in the murder. The sisters sold their father’s home for $110,000 and split the proceeds with their brother who was not involved in the death.
“They just said he didn’t want to go to an assisted living facility so they decided to euthanize him,” said Gualtieri. “They actually used the words ‘premeditated’ and ‘euthanized’ several times. They clearly knew what they were doing and had a plan.”
He said the irony is they would have gotten away with it if Linda Roberts had kept her mouth shut.
“It was gnawing at her (Linda Roberts) and that’s why she decided to confess,” he said. “And, fortunately, the man she confessed to decided to do the right thing.”
Image: Linda Roberts (right) and Mary-Beth Tomaselli are charged with first degree murder for allegedly killing their father Anthony Tomaselli.