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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Friday, January 18, 2013

Suicide by Hammer?

As ridiculous as it might sound, the conclusion was inescapable. Williams Township resident Michael C. Muretta was found in his basement, unconscious, on August 29. There was obvious evidence of blunt force trauma to his head, and he died later that day at St. Luke's Hospital. Obviously, foul play was suspected. But in a news conference yesterday, District Attorney John Morganelli reported that the death has been ruled a suicide. This is the result of a painstaking investigation by Pennsylvania State Police.

How did they reach this conclusion?

First, there was no sign of forced entry to the home, which was locked. There was an open window, but investigators found no evidence it had been used for access.

Second, a review of his cell phone, answering machine messages and neighbor interviews produced no evidence that anyone wanted to harm him.

Third, family members and his employer reported that he had been despondent in the days immediately before his death.

Fourth, had there been an assailant, DA Morganelli stated that there would be a "void" in the blood splatter evidence. Some of the blood would have splattered onto the assailant instead of the floor and wall.

Fifth, there were five or six hammer blows to the head, but they were all to the same exact spot. Had Muretta been murdered, there would likely be blows to different areas of the head and body, as the victim would have tried to evade the violence.

Sixth, Muretta had a history of emotional trouble. In 1986, he faced charges in New Jersey after entering someone's home and stabbing him in the abdomen. Muretta was acquitted as a result of insanity, and was committed for three years. He was seeing a psychologist over the last two years, but stopped taking medication prescribed for depression and schizophrenia. His family was growing increasingly concerned.

The records in this matter were reviewed by a crime assessment consultant in Montrose, who also concluded that this was a self-inflicted death.

Morganelli speculated that Muretta may have been experiencing delusions, which would include voices inside his head. People who experience that sometimes bang their head against a wall to rid themselves of the voices. Morganelli postulates that Muretta may have tried to remove the voices with a hammer.

If so, he succeeded.

"Mental illness is not rational," Morganelli concluded.


Bernie O'Hare said...

I'm not going to tolerate any offensive jokes here. This fellow had two children, and they don't need to read any of the usual snide anonymous remarks.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Since some people act like children, I am disabling commentary here.