Two Florida sisters were charged with murder after one of them allegedly told a man they were both romantically involved with that they killed their elderly father and made it look like he died in his sleep.
According to the Tampa Bay Times, Mary-Beth Tomaselli, 63, and Linda Roberts, 61, were arrested Tuesday on first-degree murder charges for the March 5, 2015, slaying of their father, Anthony Tomaselli, 85. While his death was initially deemed the result of natural causes, Pinellas police said the pair lied about finding their unresponsive father and performing CPR on him before calling 911.
A man reportedly contacted authorities on February 13 claiming a woman he was seeing confessed to murdering her father with her sister’s help. Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said the man, who authorities haven’t named, met Mary-Beth and became intimate with her. At some point, she introduced the man to Roberts, who he reportedly also became romantically involved with.
On February 12, Roberts summoned the man to her home—where she allegedly revealed she “euthanized” her father. With the man recording the exchange on his cellphone, police said Roberts laid out what happened the day she and Mary-Beth killed their father.
According to the Times, Roberts said they knew their father was ailing and he expressed that he didn’t want to be in an assisted living facility. They allegedly decided to give him a fatal mixture of alcohol and sleeping pills to make it appear he died in his sleep. Police said Mary-Beth put too much alcohol in the drink, causing the pills to be ineffective.
Gualtieri said the pair unsuccessfully attempted to suffocate Anthony while he lay on the couch, breathing heavily. The sisters allegedly then held down his arms while pinching his nose and shoving a rag down his throat—resulting in his death.
Mary-Beth’s adult daughter is said to have been in the home when the slaying occurred. She’s accused of giving her daughter sleeping pills so she wouldn’t catch them killing their father.
Calling the 2015 crime the “perfect murder,” Gualtieri said an autopsy wasn’t performed on Anthony due to his age and lengthy medical history. Furthermore, his slew of health issues led his longtime doctor to find he died of natural causes and sign his death certificate, according to the Times.
“Every single day we respond to natural death calls and if there is no evidence of foul play, no suspected criminal activity, no reason to believe anything other than a natural death, none of that is checked,” Gualtieri explained.
“When you have a guy who is 85-years-old and he has cancer, he has dementia and he obviously has heart problems, he has a pacemaker…”
The sisters reportedly confessed during police questioning. Mary-Beth told authorities that the situation was “weird,” recalling how their father “still had a pulse due to having a pacemaker despite being dead,” according to Fox News.
Reports indicated that the sisters sold their late father’s Palm Harbor home and split the $120,000 profit with their brother, who authorities said played no role in the 2015 murder.
Gualtieri concluded, “They clearly knew what they were doing.”
[Featured Image: Linda Roberts, Anthony and Mary-Beth Tomaselli/Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office]