Michele Linzalone, a 73-year-old N.J. woman, shot her ailing husband in the head and told 911 operators it was an accident, authorities believe.
Monmouth County Acting Prosecutor Lori Linskey said that Linzalone killed her husband, 74-year-old Rocky, after researching ammunition and plotting online for weeks. Court documents obtained by NJ.com claim that Rocky had suffered several strokes before his death and that Michele was his full-time caregiver.
Linzalone was charged with murder and booked into the Monmouth County Jail Monday, Sheriff’s Office records show. She appeared in court for her arraignment via video call Tuesday and is due to return for her formal detention hearing on Friday.
Michele Linzalone ‘Accidentally’ Shot Husband
According to police affidavits, Michele Linzalone called 911 at about 10:15 Monday morning to report that she had “accidentally” shot her dependent husband Rocky in their Middletown home.
“She advised the 911 dispatcher that she was playing with the gun and it went off and hit her husband,” investigators wrote. When the operator asked her if Rocky was still alive, Michele allegedly responded, “so far.”
Police arrived at the scene to find the 74-year-old stroke victim badly wounded, laying in bed with a pillow pressed against his head, documents claim. Michele told officers again that she was “playing” with the gun when her husband was shot.
“When the officer asked her what she meant by ‘playing,’ she stated that she was aiming the firearm at her husband while he was sleeping,” the affidavit says. Michele allegedly told police she pulled the trigger believing the gun was unloaded, but also said she kept the firearm loaded and next to her bed for protection, according to court filings.
After pulling the trigger, Michele said she waited about a half hour to call 911, “because she was in shock and she wanted to get dressed and brush her teeth,” investigators said.
Shooting Followed Weeks of Research
In a probable cause affidavit also obtained by NJ.com, detectives said they found evidence on Michele’s phone that she had been plotting to kill her ailing spouse since last month. A series of Internet searches dating back four weeks seemed to show the 73-year-old’s plan taking shape.
On Nov. 18, investigators said she began researching ammunition. “Are hollow-point bullets more powerful?” she searched, according to the filings. Weeks later, she apparently visited a webpage titled ““Do you die instantly from a gunshot to the head? Do you feel any pain at all?”
Chillingly, just 22 minutes before police believe she murdered her sickly husband, Michele reportedly made one final search: “If you shoot someone in the head, will they die instantly?”
Medical personnel declared Rocky Linzalone dead at the scene, police told local outlets. His wife was taken into custody later that day.
Family: Husband’s Illness Took a Toll
However, Rocky and Michele Linzalone’s loved ones told investigators that the 74-year-old husband had suffered “several” strokes over the last two years, which left him disabled and totally dependent on his wife.
“The family members stated that this appeared to take a toll on (Michele) and she became resentful for this towards the victim,” police wrote in an affidavit.
Charged with Murder, Wife Faces Life in Jail
Monmouth County jail records show the 73-year-old was charged with first-degree murder and possession of a firearm for an unlawful purpose. If convicted on the murder count, she faces a sentence of 30 years to life, according to one legal source. The gun charge could carry a 10-year sentence.
Sheriff’s Office records show Michele was booked Monday and made her initial court appearance Tuesday. She’s apparently being held without bond as of Wednesday.
Linzalone may also be forced to sit in jail until her trial, if prosecutors get their way. County officials moved to schedule a detention hearing for Friday, where they will argue that the 73-year-old should be remanded, or remain behind bars until she is either convicted or acquitted in court.
Anyone with information regarding this shooting is asked to contact Detective Jason Gold of the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office at (800) 533-7443 or Detective Keith Hirschbein of the Middletown Township Police Department at (732) 615-2100.