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May 24, 2014

Husband pulled trigger, staged prowler scene, cops say

— MILTON — In the 20 minutes before he called 911, a Turbot Township senior citizen shot his wife to death from point-blank range, raced to his garage to find the leather gloves he would wear to stage a break-in scene, then called a dispatcher to frantically report a prowler, Milton state troopers said Friday.

During a return trip to the bedroom, after Robert Thomas, 67, had opened various doors and cabinets to make it appear as if an intruder had rummaged through the house, he noticed his wife, Patricia Ann Thomas, 64, had fallen from the bed in which she was shot and onto the floor, according to court documents.

Thomas was arraigned Friday before Milton District Judge Michael Diehl on charges of criminal homicide, making false reports to police and tampering with or fabricating evidence.

Moments before he placed that phone call to the dispatcher at 1:03 a.m. April 14, 2012, Thomas wiped down any possible fingerprints, removed his leather gloves, placed his hand over his wife’s mouth and squeezed her nasal cavities to determine whether she was still breathing, troopers said.

He jumped back into bed, struck himself in the head with the pry bar he had used to orchestrate the garage-area break-in, ran back to the garage to return the gloves to the pickup truck and dialed 911, according to court documents.

Mr. Thomas, who lives at 1060 Phillips Road, initially told troopers that an unidentified person broke into the couple’s home, and that he remained in bed while retrieving a gun from a night stand before being “pounced on” by the prowler, court documents state.

Mr. Thomas told police he believed the gun was fired after the prowler “pounced on him,” police said.

Mr. Thomas told police he was then struck over the head with an object, and that he was unsure whether the gun was fired during an altercation with the intruder or that his wife may have been shot during the struggle, police said.

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