A 21-year-old Pennsylvania man has been charged with his mother’s murder earlier this month and leaving her body in a plastic bag in the home’s backyard.
West Mifflin police said Jonathan Nulty has been jailed on charges of criminal homicide, abuse of a corpse, and tampering with evidence in the death of 52-year-old Helene Nulty, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.
Police said they began looking for Helene Nulty on Thursday evening after her father reported he hadn’t heard from her in some time, according to KDKA. They went to her home and encountered her son, who told them her boyfriend picked her up and he hadn’t seen her since.
Officers returned the following day, this time going inside the home, the Post Gazette said. One of the officers spotted a suspicious garbage bag in the backyard and discovered it held a body, later identified as Helene Nulty.
Investigators said when they confronted the son with the discovery of his mother’s body, he blurted out, “It was self-defense!” and confessed to killing her on December 1 after the pair got into an argument.
Nulty told police he and his mother had long-standing problems and that he believed she was physically and mentally abusing him by “nitpicking” him and disapproving of his use of marijuana. He said during the argument on December 1, his mother grabbed him by the throat, and he strangled her with a cellphone charging cord, then stuffed her body in a garbage bag.
Police said he told them he initially wanted to dump the body in the river but couldn’t lift her, so he dragged the bag with his mother’s body outside and planned to bury her in the garden and “let mother nature take care of her.”
The Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s office said she died from ligature strangulation, TribLive reported.
The criminal complaint said that West Mifflin police have responded to numerous calls for domestic incidents between mother and son in the past two years, and Jonathan has a list of charges against him spanning several years.
Helene Nulty’s father, Johnny Nulty, told police that his grandson had asked him to buy him a gun, but he refused. He also said that members of the family had received several restraining orders against him.
Jonathan Nulty is in the Allegheny County Jail awaiting arraignment.
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