Thursday’s Dateline NBC examined the case of Leslie Neulander, a woman who was found dead in her shower by her husband, Dr. M. Robert Neulander, of Syracuse, New York. Each week, Dateline NBC profiles new cases that have baffled police. In many of the cases presented, the verdicts were controversial. This case is no different. People who know Dr. Robert Neulander say that he is a wonderful man who would never harm anyone—let alone the mother of his lovely children.
But law enforcement officials say that Robert Neulander bludgeoned his wife to death and tried to make it look like she had fallen in the shower. Police hadn’t arrived at that decision initially. In the beginning, Leslie Neulander’s death was considered to be an accident. The truth didn’t become apparent until police started to look further into the couple’s background.
The mysterious case began in September 2012 with a phone call to 911, alerting detectives that a woman had fallen while in the shower at her home. When entry was made inside the DeWitt home located on Shalimar Way, police found the body of a white woman lying unconscious in the bedroom. Robert Neulander told authorities that initially he had found his wife in the shower but moved her to the bedroom in order to perform CPR.
The victim was identified as 61-year old Leslie Neulander, a housewife and philanthropist in Fayettville and Syracuse. An autopsy report initally confirmed that her death was an accident. But friends of Leslie Neulander were not so sure. One friend in particular was sure that Leslie had not really fallen in the shower, that something more sinister had to be the cause of her death. Turns out she was correct. An autopsy report would later confirm that Leslie Neulander had sustained a gash to the head that might not have been consistent with a fall.
Detectives also learned that Robert Neulander removed the bed sheets and instructed the housekeeper to clean the room and the bathroom. Prosecutors alleged that this was Neulander’s way of removing evidence that would have indicated that his wife’s death was actually a murder.
Prosecutors also alleged that Dr. Neulander and his wife were headed for divorce, and that the doctor had landed himself in trouble by overcharging for services to an insurance provider—later causing the provider to terminate the contract with Neulander’s practice. This termination caused him to lose at least half of his business. They also learned that, in the weeks leading up to Leslie’s death, her will had been changed.
A jury agreed and found Dr. M. Robert Neulander guilty of second-degree murder. Dr. Neulander’s children stuck by him. But, his friends were shocked that Neulander, who had spent so much time helping others, could find himself in such a predicament.
Sadly, Leslie Neulander’s loved ones were left trying to come to terms with her untimely death. According to her obituary, she left behind “her four children, Brian, Emily, Jenna and Ari, and three grandchildren.”
Thursday’s Dateline NBC episode followed police on their journey to hold a killer accountable for murder. Did the doctor murder his wife or was this all an unfortunate accident?
Dateline NBC episode tease:
“When beautiful, beloved Leslie Neulander dies suddenly after what appears to be an accidental fall in the shower, two friends join forces to seek justice on her behalf. It would take more than two years for the truth to come out – with one friend believing Leslie guided their investigation from the grave.”
[Photo Credit: YouTube]