A retired pastor is set to stand trial for killing his second wife, then staging a car accident to cover up the murder.
Arthur “A.B.” Schirmer is a retired Pennsylvania pastor, will also face a trial for killing his first wife in 1999. In the first trial, Schirmer faces charges that he killed second wife Betty Jean Schirmer in 2008, then faked a car crash to make her death appear to be an accident, The Associated Press reported.
In both of the deaths, the pastor is accused of bludgeoning his wives with a blunt object.
The retired clergyman led churches in two towns in rural Pennsylvania, and denies involvement in both killings. He maintains that his 56-year-old wife died in the car crash in the Pocono Mountains.
Schirmer claims that he was driving Betty Schirmer to the hospital at 2 am on July 15, 2008, for jaw pain she was experiencing. He claims that a deer jumped in front of the car, causing him to lose control. Her death was initially ruled an accident after the crash, which was described as “minor.”
The story of the pastor accused of killing his wives took a turn later that fall, however. Police took a look into a suicide at Reeders United Methodist, finding that Schirmer had been having an affair with his secretary, the wife of the suicidal man.
Schirmer was charged in 2010, and police then decided to take another look into the death of his first wife.
He had claimed that he returned home from a run on April 23, 1999, to find his wife’s body in a pool of blood at the bottom of the basement steps. She suffered numerous injuries including a fractured skull, and the coroner made no determination whether her death was homicide or accident.
Jewel Schirmer’s brother noted to police that she complained about her husband’s affairs, saying the marriage was strained but because of her upbringing divorce was not an option, Penn Live reported.
The pastor is set to stand trial for killing his first wife sometime in the future, with no date for the trial yet determined.