Linda Roberts and Mary-Beth Tomaselli were charged with the first-degree murder of their 85-year-old father, who authorities thought died of natural causes in 2015. The sisters – who escaped justice for four years – were caught after Roberts confessed in 2019 to a man she’d had a sexual relationship with. Tomaselli slept with the same man!
The man, who has remained anonymous, recorded a conversation he had with Linda Roberts in which she confessed to killing her father with her sister. He recorded the confession on his phone and brought it to the local sheriff’s office. The two sisters, Linda Roberts, 61, and Mary-Beth Tomaselli, 63, pled guilty to the second-degree murder of their father, Anthony Tomaselli, in 2015.
The unnamed man recently had an interview with People, comparing the incident with his ex-lovers to the play Arsenic and Old Lace. He referenced the comedic play as he reflected on the sisters’ plot, in which they killed their father and framed it on natural causes. “Who would suspect two old ladies killed their father?” he joked to the outlet.
The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, with the help of the unnamed man and Robert’s confession, were able to piece together the full story. According to Detective Michael Bailey, Anthony Tomaselli, 85, was killed because he wouldn’t move into an assisted living facility in his old age.
Both Linda Roberts and Mary-Beth Tomaselli noticed that their father’s health and mental wellbeing were going downhill. After Anthony Tomaselli’s live-in girlfriend passed, his state took a turn for the worse, but he still wouldn’t budge.
That’s when Roberts and Tomaselli took a page out of Joseph Kesselring’s 1939 play, Arsenic and Old Lace, which tells the story of elderly sisters who murder old men in their home. According to reports, the sisters spiked their father’s nightly cocktail with a lethal dose of sleeping pills. The attempted poison didn’t do the trick, though, it only made their father sleepy.
To finish the job, the women placed a pillow over his head in an attempt to asphyxiate him. Then, Linda Roberts insisted that they “get a washcloth and put it in his mouth,” according to Marry-Bath Tomaselli. “We had to finish what we had started.”
The next morning, the women played it off as though their father died of natural causes. They called 911 and reported that their father wasn’t waking up, but that they had attempted CPR to no avail. Police did not suspect the elderly women, especially since Anthony Tomaselli had a long history of medical issues. The body was quickly cremated and the case was closed. Or so they thought.
“There were no red flags,” according to Detective Michael Bailey. “Nobody suspected anything.”
Then, a new lover, who had been in bed with both sisters, learned the truth. Linda Roberts came clean to him during a nightly rant. “I can’t take it anymore — I killed my father,” she told him. “Well, we did. We did it together.”
The man recorded the confession on his phone and in 2019 both Roberts and her sister were arrested and charged with first-degree murder. Without the confession, however, the sisters likely would have gotten away with murder.
“This is in some respects — as we sometimes call these things —the perfect murder, because there was absolutely no sign of struggle, no sign of foul play,” Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri explained to reporters in 2019. “He had cancer, he had dementia, he was seriously ill … They could have easily gotten away with it.”
Gualtieri continued, saying that they would have gotten away with killing their father had Linda not “run her mouth to this guy she met in a bar.” The unnamed man got one thing wrong with his reference to Arsenic and Old Lace. In the story justice was served.