PALM HARBOR, Fla. (FOX 13) - Two sisters are now facing charges for the 2015 murder of their elderly father, Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri announced Tuesday.
The sheriff said his daughters had called 911 in March of 2015 to report the death of their father, Anthony Tomaselli of Palm Harbor. At the time, Mary-Beth Tomaselli and Linda Roberts claimed that Anthony had been ill with cancer and dementia; they said they'd awoken to find the 85-year-old had died in his sleep.
"There were no signs of foul play, no signs of criminal activity, nothing to indicate anything other than Anthony's death was of natural causes," Gualtieri said.
Later, a tipster – identified by the sheriff only as a sexual partner of both of the women – gave deputies video that he’d recorded of Linda Roberts explaining how she and her sister had "euthanized" their father.
"It all unraveled for them from there," Gualtieri said.
The pair had tried to kill him with “an excessive amount” of sleeping pills in alcohol, the sheriff said, but when that failed, Linda tried to suffocate him, then stuffed a rag down his throat while Mary-Beth pinched his nose shut.
“They decided to euthanize him because he would not go to the [assisted living facility],” Gualtieri explained.
Investigators believed the death to be natural, the sheriff noted, so no autopsy was performed.
“If they hadn’t run their mouth and confessed to this guy that she met in a bar…in some respects, we’d call this the perfect murder because there was no sign of a struggle or foul play,” he added.
Neighbors who knew "Tony" Tomaselli where shaken to the core to hear how he actually died.
"I didn't ever in my wildest dreams think that that happened to Tony," said Carol Gransky. "A rag in his throat? That's a horrible way. I hope they rot in hell."
"God's gonna take care of them," Gransky said. "The dear Lord up above knows."
"Just a nice, nice guy," said Robert Kazanecki. "Quiet. Totally shocked."