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UPDATE: Learning more about the case against a man charged in wife's 2012 death

Updated: Sunday, March 9 2014, 04:16 PM CDT
Reported by: Christina Butler

UPDATE: We are learning more about the arrest of a man for murder almost two years after his wife’s death.

Joseph Fitzpatrick III was taken into custody Friday.

Police say he killed his wife and then staged it to look like an ATV accident.

We spoke with the family attorney for the victim, Annemarie.  He says the family has been patient and cooperated fully with the investigation.

We also talked to the York County Coroner to try find out why these charges took 21 months.

“Our office has been in communications with the state police on a regular basis regarding this case,” explained York County Coroner Pam Gay. 

York County Coroner Pam Gay explains that Joe Fitzpatrick was arrested this week only after her office changed his wife’s death certificate from pending to homicide, based on a recommendation from State Police.      

Annemarie died June 6, 2012. Her husband claimed she drowned in an ATV accident on their Chanceford Township property.

At the time, he told investigators they had been celebrating their anniversary.  However, an autopsy found injuries on nearly every part of Annemarie’s body, but Joe was uninjured despite the fact he claims he was on the same ATV.

“It's really rare and in the situation where there's been an accidental drowning likely initially thought that's definitely something our investigators would be highly suspicious of,” stated Gay.

The District Attorney is not commenting on why their office took 21 months to file the charges.

Police paperwork shows in the immediate weeks after her death, it was discovered Joe was having an affair. There was 1.7 million dollars of life insurance on Annemarie and she herself had left notes and emails warning the couple was having problems.

“In this case there were things they wanted to build a case through obviously there are things that took some time and some of these cases to take a lot of time you want to make sure everything is in line you certainly don't want anybody getting out on a technicality,” Gay told us.

A spokesperson for Annemarie’s family tells us, “they are a strong, faithful family. They continue to lean on each other.”

“It's difficult, these are big decisions the coroner and State Police have to make but at the same time my job first and foremost is justice for the defendant.  The person is no longer here, it's important that we get justice for the defendant,” Gay concluded.

Fitzpatrick’s preliminary hearing is scheduled for next Friday.

A York County man has been charged with his wife’s death, nearly two years after he claimed she was killed in an ATV accident.  

Annemarie Fitzpatrick died in June 2012 after a lengthy investigation involving a mistress, a million dollar plus life insurance policy, and notes from the deceased found after her death.

Her husband, joe Fitzpatrick, claimed they were celebrating a belated anniversary on June 6, 2012. He says they had a romantic dinner by the stream in the Chanceford Township yard off of Old Forge Road.

But he says an ATV ride went horrible wrong, and he claims both of them ended up in the water on the vehicle, and his wife drowned. An autopsy showed injuries on nearly every part of her body. Joe had no injuries.

Two days after her death coworkers found a note in Annemarie’s handwriting in her daily planner on her desk that read “06/06/12 – If something happens to me – JOE”

Prosecutors say she also sent herself an email saying the two were having marital problems describing a near accident that could have killed her.
Within a week, investigators discovered Joe was having an affair. The woman told police he talked about leaving his wife the day she died.

Phone records show Joe called the woman before police responded to their home the night he called them about the ATV accident.

Insurance companies reported to investigators Joe stood to gain $1.7 million from Annemarie’s death. Police also searched Joe’s computer, and found the week before his wife’s death he’d searched Google for life insurance information and to learn in which states polygraph’s were legal.

All of this evidence is outlined in the criminal affidavit, and the paperwork says almost all of the evidence was discovered in the weeks immediately after Annemarie’s death in 2012.

CBS21 has asked the District Attorney’s office why it took 21 months to bring charges, but at this point they have declined to comment.

The couple had two daughters.

UPDATE: Learning more about the case against a man charged in wife's 2012 death

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