Man charged with homicide in wife's 2012 death - abc27 WHTM

Man charged with homicide in wife's 2012 death

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A York County man has been charged with criminal homicide in the June 2012 death of his wife because the ATV accident he reported to police could not have happened the way he described, according to court documents.

The criminal complaint filed against Joseph Bernard Fitzpatrick III further alleges that he was having an extramarital affair, stood to gain more than $1.7 million from his wife's death, and that Annemarie Fitzpatrick left behind messages that her husband might be trying to kill her.

Fitzpatrick, 40, of Felton, was arrested Thursday following a 21-month investigation by state police.

His wife, 44-year-old Annemarie, died at a hospital June 6, 2012 after their ATV was reported to have crashed that night into the Muddy Creek on the couple's property in the 2200 block of Old Forge Road in Chanceford Township.

Fitzpatrick told investigators that he and his wife were celebrating a belated anniversary by having dinner along the creek, and when she wanted to start a fire they planned to go back to the house for a propane torch, according to the complaint.

He said his wife was driving and he was seated behind her and giving instructions when the ATV suddenly flipped backwards, went into the creek, and dumped them both into a spot where the creek is about eight-feet deep.

Fitzpatrick told troopers he searched for Annemarie for several minutes but could not find her until he climbed out of the water to get his cell phone from a table and saw her body floating close to the opposite shore, the complaint states.

He said he pulled her out of the water and performed CPR until paramedics arrived.

Annemarie's death was initially ruled an accidental drowning, but police said in the complaint that the forensic pathologist who performed the autopsy indicated the circumstances were suspicious.

Annemarie had a fractured rib and multiple bruises and abrasions on her neck, head, body, arms and legs while police noted in the complaint that Joseph Fitzpatrick had no visible injuries and refused medical treatment at the scene.

According to a police expert, Fitzpatrick should have had injuries similar to his wife's if the accident happened the way he described it.

Two days after her death, police in the complaint said they were contacted by Annemarie's employer because her co-workers had discovered a signed, handwritten note in her daily planner that read, "06/06/12. If something happens to me - JOE."

According to the document, Annemarie on June 6 had also sent an email from her work account to her personal account with the subject line, "If something happens to me." In the body of the email she had typed: "Joe and I are having marital problems. Last night we almost had an accident where a huge log fell on me. Joe was on the pile with the log and had me untying a tarp directly below."

Fitzpatrick had previously told investigators there were no problems in his marriage, but police said they searched his email and Facebook accounts and found several messages where he expressed love, sexual attraction and plans to leave his wife to another woman, according to the complaint.

In an interview with investigators, his love interest said she told Fitzpatrick just days before Annemarie's death that he would have to leave his wife if he wanted to be with her, the complaint states.

The woman also claimed that Fitzpatrick had promised to talk to his wife about separation and divorce the night Annemarie died, the document states.

Police said Fitzpatrick also stood to gain financially from the death of his wife through three life insurance policies; one in the amount of $500,000, another for $864,000 and a third worth $350,000.

Additionally, a check on his work computer revealed that he had searched the Internet on June 1 for "life insurance review during contestability period," and on June 5 for "polygraph legal in which states," according to the complaint.

Fitzpatrick was placed in York County Prison without bail following his arraignment.

His preliminary hearing was scheduled March 14.


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