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US Sailor Accused Of Throwing Wife To Sharks

July 28, 1988

EXMOUTH, Australia (AP) _ A U.S. Navy sailor killed his wife by throwing her into shark-infested waters off the Indian Ocean, a military prosecutor told an American court- martial.

Petty Officer Charles Wayne Elmore, 26, of Texas, is charged with premeditated murder in the the March 1988 death of his Philippines-born wife, Bella Fe. Elmore, who is stationed in Exmouth, has pleaded innocent.

Military officials refused to release Elmore’s hometown.

A judge and jury, all U.S. military officers, flew in for the trial, the first court-martial for an American in Australia since World War II.

In her opening statement Wednesday, government prosecutor Lt. Cmdr. Philemina Jones acknowledged the case was circumstantial because no trace of the body was recovered.

″There is, simply, nothing left of Mrs. Elmore,″ the prosecutor said.

Ms. Jones said Elmore’s statements changed as investigators questioned him about the March 16 disappearance.

Ms. Jones said she would prove Elmore and his wife argued and then drove to the Exmouth Naval Pier, 500 miles north of Perth, where ″somehow she just fell and rolled off the pier into the water.″

″Instead of going to help her, Elmore went home and went to bed,″ Jones said. ″He figured his wife could swim back to the end of the pier and walk the 10 miles back home.″

Ms. Jones said she would produce 38 witnesses and evidence about marital problems, including testimony that Elmore, after drinking, was overheard to say he would like to cut up his wife and throw her to the sharks.

″It is something he had been planning ever since he decided he was sorry he married her,″ Ms. Jones said. ″This was a premeditated murder of his wife - a wife he had grown tired of.″

Jones said that because of Elmore’s work as a boatswain’s mate, he knew about tides in the area and that the waters were shark-infested.

″That is why he was so sure he would never see Bella again,″ she said.

The case is continuing.

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