MALTA A former Nassau County police officer allegedly choked his wife of 46 years to death Friday night during a domestic dispute at their home, law enforcement officials said Monday.
Charles L. Wilkinson, 68, of 9 Meadow Rue Place, was arrested Sunday evening for second-degree murder in the death of Kathleen Wilkinson, 65, Saratoga County Sheriff Michael H. Zurlo said.
Zurlo said Wilkinson continued to live in the home for more than a day following the alleged murder.
Wilkinson was arraigned Sunday evening before Malta Town Justice James Fauci and sent to the Saratoga County Jail in lieu of bail.
Zurlo and District Attorney James A. Murphy III weren't commenting on the cause of death, but a felony complaint filed with the town court indicated Wilkinson choked his wife to death at about 10 p.m. Friday.
Wilkinson spoke at length with investigators, though it isn't clear whether he confessed.
Murphy said police continue to investigate to determine a motive.
Wilkinson retired from the Nassau County Police Department in 1984, Murphy said, and then worked as a painter. The couple moved to Malta about a decade ago. Wilkinson had worked recently as a part-time security officer at the nearby GlobalFoundries computer chip plant.
Responding to a request to check Kathleen Wilkinson's welfare, Zurlo said Deputy Sean Lyons went to the home in the quiet Luther Forest housing development about 10:30 a.m. Sunday. He said an adult son who lives in the Boston area asked for a check at the request of a sister-in-law who lives in the Capital Region. Wilkinson "had not been heard from in several days," the sheriff's department said.
"The responding deputy was greeted at the door by Charles Wilkinson. After a period of discussion at the door Charles Wilkinson allowed the deputy to enter the residence at which time the deputy located the body of Kathleen Wilkinson deceased on the floor of a first-floor bedroom," the sheriff's statement continued.
The cause of death wasn't immediately obvious, Murphy said. More may be learned after an autopsy scheduled for Monday afternoon was performed at Albany Medical Center.
A felony complaint filed by a sheriff's investigator in Malta town court said: "Charles L. Wilkinson did choke the victim," and gives the time as 10 p.m. Friday.
Murphy said investigators will be especially careful in preparing the case, given that Wilkinson is a former law enforcement officer.
"Any time we have a former law enforcement official it's particularly difficult," Murphy said at a press conference. "We are confident we will sustain our burden of proof."
There was no history of prior domestic violence calls to police from the home, Murphy and Zurlo said.
Second-degree murder carries a potential penalty of 25 years to life in prison.
Murphy said the case will be presented to a grand jury once all autopsy and toxicology test results are in.
Kathleen Wilkinson worked as a teachers' aide on Long Island, but hadn't worked since the couple moved to Malta.
As state police forensic investigators continued to remove evidence from the home Monday morning, a Jeep sitting in the driveway had four flat tires. Zurlo and Murphy said they didn't know whether the flat tires had anything to do with the crime or actions leading up to it. "I think investigators are curious about that as well," Murphy said.
About a month ago, the Jeep hit the mailbox cluster on the opposite side of Meadow Rue Place, with state police investigating.
This weekend's alleged killing came just two weeks after Saratoga County's last murder case, which also appeared to be related to domestic violence.
In that case, Schuylerville High School student Matthew J. Brown, 18, was charged with second-degree murder for allegedly stabbing Derick K. Clark, 32, in the neck during a violent altercation between Clark and the teen's mother and fiance, 34-year-old Heather Brown, at their home in Schuylerville. A self-defense claim is being made in that case.
Two murder arrests so close together is unusual in Saratoga County, which has a generally low crime rate and can go a full year without a murder taking place.