Woman Convicted Of Killing 80-Year-Old Husband
Dec. 16, 1985
FRIDAY HARBOR, Wash. (AP) _ A 65-year-old woman faces a mandatory life sentence after being convicted of killing her 80-year-old husband, who prosecutors say was shot and his body chopped up and burned.
A jury deliberated four days before convicting Ruth Neslund of first-degree murder in the disappearance of her husband, Rolf, five years ago.
She denied the charges, saying she thought her husband took an extended trip to his native Norway or committed suicide. No body has been found, although bloodstains were discovered in the house.
''It was not a decision we wanted to come up with,'' said jury foreman Elizabeth Roberts, ''but the evidence was too much. It was very difficult for all of us.''
One juror from the tightly knit community sobbed uncontrollably as the verdict was read and others wiped tears from their eyes.
Mrs. Neslund cried as she was led to a holding cell at the jail. She refused to answer questions from reporters.
Nearly 170 pieces of evidence, including pieces of ceiling from the Neslunds' home, were submitted during the trial, which began Oct. 28.
In closing arguments, prosecutor Greg Canova described the Neslunds as a hard-drinking couple who often quarreled and threatened each other.
''It really was a case of who was going to kill whom first,'' he said.
Canova said Mrs. Neslund and her brother, Robert Myers of Beardstown, Ill., chopped up the corpse and burned the remains in a trash barrel. Myers, described by his doctors as senile, was not charged in the case.
Defense lawyer Fred Weedon hammered at the lack of a murder weapon or body. In two extensive searches of the Neslunds' home, he said, ''they found nothing because nothing was there.''