An 84-year-old man from Pennsylvania, Barton Seltmann, has been taken into custody on charges of murdering his wife, Margaret Seltmann, 85, in their Lower Pottsgrove Township home, as confirmed by the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office.
According to District Attorney Kevin R. Steele, officers responded to a call from Barton on Tuesday at approximately 2:30 p.m., reporting an “unresponsive female.” The affidavit of probable cause obtained by NBC10 Philadelphia stated that Barton informed 911 operators that his wife had been assaulted, suffering head injuries, and their kitchen had been disturbed.
Upon arriving at the scene, law enforcement discovered Barton on the rear porch with blood on his hands, face, and clothing. He was subsequently taken to the hospital for a hand injury.
Evidence at the residence suggested that Margaret had been subjected to multiple blows to the head while lying on the kitchen floor. The Montgomery County Coroner’s Office concluded that her cause of death was blunt force injuries to the head, ruled a homicide.
A joint investigation by Lower Pottsgrove Police and Montgomery County Detectives revealed that the altercation between Margaret and Barton initially revolved around financial matters related to veterinary care for their cat, escalating into a physical confrontation.
According to the affidavit, Barton claimed that during the argument, his wife threatened him with a knife. In response, he used a chair to push her down, subsequently repeatedly striking her with a candleholder. Barton reported that Margaret uttered, “You’re killing me,” before apparently losing consciousness.
Police, according to WPVI-TV, noted a knife beneath Margaret’s body and broken candleholder pieces at the scene. Barton faces charges of first-degree murder and third-degree murder, currently held without bail at Montgomery County Correctional Facility. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for December 5.
Family members informed WPVI-TV that the couple had been married for over 30 years and seemed content. However, they acknowledged Barton’s recent struggles with memory issues, which Margaret attributed to dementia.
“In the last five or six weeks, Margaret said [Barton] was suffering from dementia, he wasn’t remembering things,” stated Barton’s sister-in-law Sandy Seltmann. “Like if he went somewhere, he wasn’t remembering where he was at and things, and she was concerned about it.”
“There was no warning that this kind of thing could happen. None” added Barton’s brother Ron Seltmann. “This just tore us apart.”