An elderly Fresno woman was arrested on May 17 for the murder of her husband. Police say she killed her husband several weeks ago and left his body on the floor of their home. Gloria Villa, 76, went to a neighbor’s home asking for her husband. When they were unable to answer where he was, her behavior became erratic. She accused the neighbors of holding her husband hostage. The neighbors called police and reported her unusual behavior, saying they suspected she had dementia. One neighbor, William Mendes, told Los Angeles station ABC 7 News that Villa had come to his home.
“They came over here, asking if her husband was here and if I had seen her husband and I said, ‘No, I haven’t seen him.’ I guess she started walking up and down the street. I guess she was asking so many different neighbors.”
Several of Villa’s neighbors said the elderly woman has dementia or some similar type of disorder that affects her brain and her memory, which may have prompted her continuing to search for her husband, all the while his body was inside their home. One neighbor recounts that she asked him why he hadn’t trimmed the trees. The trees she was referring to line the border between their homes. They had never previously discussed that before, he says, but still, nothing caught his attention until after the Fresno Police department came and addressed the issues following neighbor’s reports of her searching for her husband. That’s when the neighbors found out Mrs. Villa had told police that her neighbors had her elderly husband and were keeping him hostage in one of their cars.
Fresno’s ABC 30 KSFN’s legal analyst Tony Capozzi said he knew the Villas before the onset of Gloria’s dementia.
“The sweetest couple in the world, got along very well. But, I guess, with later years, the onset of dementia, characters change, personalities change.”
Capozzi went on to say that if she really does have a mental disorder, the case against her may be nothing but a sad tragedy. The elderly woman had been with her husband since high school, he said. He also said that in order for her to have killed her husband, she probably “doesn’t know that she did it,” and that it would be hard to get a valid statement out of her, making it a very difficult case for the district attorney. Villa was taken to nearby Community Regional Medical Center for evaluation. The Fresno County Superior Court granted a warrant to search for additional evidence in the killing.
When police first arrived on the scene after her neighbor’s calls on the evening of May 12, they found the elderly woman outside her home and went inside the home with her. There, they found the body of her 78-year-old husband, Bernie Villa, on the living room floor covered with multiple sheets of newspaper, according to NBC station KCRA3. Physical evidence found on the scene, along with statements provided led police to believe she killed her husband several weeks earlier and had been living with his dead body in the house all that time.
The Fresno Bee reports that Gloria Villa is still being held in jail and faces homicide charges with a special enhancement of using a knife. Neighbors weren’t convinced that the elderly woman even remembered or understood that she had killed her husband. It remains unclear at this time what the motive was for the murder. There are still no reports on the woman’s reaction to the police finding her husband’s body in the home or any statements she may have made.
Should she be charged with murder, or given lenience due to her dementia? Sound off in the comments below.
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