A Spokane County sheriff’s deputy is facing a first-degree murder charge for shooting his wife in the head last November, Police Chief Terry Mangan said Wednesday.
Police arrested Tom DiBartolo, 41, and booked him into the county jail Wednesday night. He is being held without bail.
Detectives spent hours questioning DiBartolo before making the arrest, based on “a number of contradictions” between the deputy’s account of what had happened and the evidence, Mangan said.
The police chief declined to detail what those contradictions are.
“This has been and will continue to be a very thorough investigation,” Mangan said. “It is not an easy case, and we will continue to work at it. But we have reached a point where it would be remiss to not arrest Thomas DiBartolo and charge him with this crime.
“It is a tragedy for that family and for the community that the investigation led us to this point.”
Mangan announced the arrest alongside Sheriff John Goldman at a 9:45 p.m. news conference at the Public Safety Building.
DiBartolo “seemed calm and non-committal” at the time of his arrest, Mangan said.
The deputy repeatedly has insisted his wife of 19 years was killed by armed robbers at a South Hill park.
He claimed he and his wife, Patty, were returning to their van about 9:30 p.m. on Nov. 2 after taking a stroll to view the city lights at Lincoln Park.
The deputy said they were attacked by two men. One of them, he said, grabbed his wife’s .38-caliber revolver from the van and fired at least twice.
DiBartolo said he grabbed his own handgun and fired at the fleeing men before pulling his wife into the van and driving to Sacred Heart Medical Center.
DiBartolo, who suffered a minor gunshot wound, provided police with a description of the alleged attackers, but the 18-year Sheriff’s Department veteran never was ruled out as a suspect.
In a December interview with The Spokesman-Review, DiBartolo dismissed widespread speculation that he was responsible for his wife’s death.
“I’m not about to give it any weight. I take the sting and move on. It’s not true, so there’s no reason even to speculate,” he said.
Patty DiBartolo, a 39-year-old mother of five, worked at a Spokane credit union.
Her father, Floyd Reeves, declined to comment Wednesday about the arrest.
“I don’t think that would be best right now,” Reeves said. “We’re all in shock and everything right now.”
Goldman said DiBartolo, who has been on paid administrative leave since the shooting, now is suspended without pay.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color Photo