PINELLAS COUNTY, FL (Gray News) - When deputies arrived at Anthony Tomaselli’s Palm Harbor home on March 6, 2015, they thought they were looking at a natural death.
After all, he was 85 years old. His daughters, 61-year-old Linda Roberts and 63-year-old Mary-Beth Tomaselli, told deputies that he had cancer and dementia and a pacemaker.
Familiar with his medical history, his long-time doctor agreed to sign his death certificate and an autopsy was never performed.
Four years later, they now know it was a murder scene.
Deputies with the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office arrested the sisters on Tuesday and charged them with first-degree murder.
Investigators said they took their father’s life, faked discovering his body the next morning, staged CPR and called 911.
Given his age and medical history, and the fact that an autopsy was not performed, the sisters likely would have gotten away with it. Their past deeds only came to light thanks to the man they’d become romantically involved with.
“If they hadn’t run their mouth and confessed to this guy, who she met in a bar last August or September,” Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said in a news conference Tuesday. “As we sometimes call these things, it’s the perfect murder.”
On Feb. 13, 2019, the day before Valentine’s Day, the unidentified man told authorities he was in a relationship with sisters who had confessed to him that they’d plotted to end their father’s life.
He gave them a recording of Roberts’ confession and helped investigators land more recordings of both sisters.
On the recording, deputies said the women used the words “premeditated” and “euthanized.”
Detectives said the victim didn’t want to live in an assisted living facility, so the sisters took matters into their own hands.
Their first method was to load their dad’s alcohol with sleeping pills. But they put too much alcohol in the cup, rendering the sleeping pills ineffective, deputies said.
Next, they reportedly tried to suffocate him by placing a pillow over his face. But Anthony Tomaselli’ survived that attempt on his life, too.
Finally, they held his arms down while they stuffed a rag down his throat and held his nose closed.
“It’s terrible that they put that much effort and thought into killing their dad,” Gualtieri said. “It’s pretty bad. Thankfully, they’re not getting away with it.”
At the time of the murder, the suspects were not alone in the house. Mary-Beth Tomaselli’s adult daughter was asleep upstairs.
Her mother had given her sleeping pills in order to keep her from witnessing her grandfather’s death.
After their arrest, both women admitted to the crime. Mary-Beth Tomaselli told deputies it was weird killing their father because his pacemaker gave him a pulse, even after he’d stopped breathing.
The sisters, and their brother who was oblivious to their plot, sold their father’s home and split the $120,000 profit.