A veteran sheriff’s deputy cheated on his wife for years before murdering her and launching a cover-up that included shooting himself in the side, authorities said Thursday.
Thomas DiBartolo, 42, officially was charged with first-degree murder Thursday in the Nov. 2 shooting death of his wife, Patty, 39.
Detectives laid out their case in an eight-page affidavit of facts which details a pattern of adultery and lying by Tom DiBartolo.
Prosecutors hope to prove that DiBartolo had planned to kill his wife of 19 years for some time before luring her to an isolated South Hill park and shooting her in the back of the head with her own gun.
DiBartolo, arrested Wednesday after an extensive investigation, has maintained that he and his wife were attacked by two men as they returned to their car after a stroll around Lincoln Park.
The deputy said one of the men took his wife’s .38-caliber revolver from the glove box of their minivan and fired two shots.
Patty DiBartolo, a credit union employee and mother of five, was killed. The deputy suffered a superficial flesh wound.
The deputy, looking haggard and in need of a shave Thursday afternoon, was led into court for his initial appearance in handcuffs and standard-issue blue jail coveralls.
DiBartolo said very little as Judge James Murphy read the charge against him.
In court papers supporting an arrest warrant, detectives claim DiBartolo has lied consistently about nearly every aspect of the case.
The deputy told investigators he and his wife were getting along at the time of her death, according to the affidavit. But friends and family told detectives Patty and Tom DiBartolo had been experiencing marital discord for some time.
The affidavit also mentioned discussions of divorce and “suicidal threats on Thomas DiBartolo’s part.” The couple stopped wearing their wedding rings last April, acquaintances told investigators.
In addition, detectives found a pattern of adultery by DiBartolo that extended back at least 18 years.
Detectives said DiBartolo was involved in extramarital affairs with two, possibly three, women at the time of his wife’s death.
According to the court records, DiBartolo told detectives he took his wife to the park the night of her killing for a romantic walk.
They went there when they first met about 20 years ago and had visited the park several times over the years, the affidavit states.
But the victim told friends shortly before her death she was confused by her husband’s recent requests to visit the park. She said her husband would not talk to her very much during these walks. She “believed he was preparing to tell her something of importance, but never did,” and wondered “why Thomas kept taking her to the park.”
Detectives said his story about the night his wife was killed is full of holes and contradictions.
DiBartolo told detectives he was trying to get the gun away from one of the assailants and grabbed it just before he was shot.
The deputy said the gun was upside down or sideways at the time it fired. DiBartolo’s wound indicated the gun was right side up when it went off, detectives said.
Also, there were no burn marks on DiBartolo’s hands. ” … some amount of physical evidence consisting of gunpowder residue and/or scorch marks should have been present,” court records state.
After the shooting, DiBartolo said he retrieved his personal Glock .40-caliber handgun from the car. He said he fired three shots at the assailants as they ran off.
Family members told detectives it was unlikely DiBartolo left his gun in the car. He was known to carry his gun everywhere, “including during daytime walks through Riverfront Park,” detectives said. “This incident occurred in a dark, isolated park during late evening hours.”
DiBartolo told investigators he drove at high speeds to Sacred Heart Medical Center after the shooting, while talking to 911 operators on his cellular phone.
An audio analysis of DiBartolo’s call indicated no background noises associated with a fast-moving car, such as the sounds of passing vehicles, wind or engine noise.
In addition, DiBartolo said he began the 911 call when he was approaching the intersection of 18th and Perry and ended it when he pulled into Sacred Heart. Phone records showed the call lasted 2 minutes, 18 seconds.
Investigators drove the route and determined DiBartolo’s vehicle speed had to be maintained at 40 mph for the call to last that long.
Judge Murphy ordered DiBartolo held without bail.
Sheriff John Goldman said DiBartolo, who is suspended without pay, is isolated from the rest of the jail population and is being monitored in case he should try to kill himself.
Relatives of both DiBartolos declined to talk about the case in any detail Thursday.
“We haven’t discussed this as a family or appointed anyone to do the speaking,” said Anthony DiBartolo, the deputy’s brother. “We’re just in shock over this.”
A woman who answered the telephone at the home of Patty DiBartolo’s parents said the family “is still too traumatized to talk about it.”
The couple’s children are in the care of family members, she added. “That’s our main worry right now, taking care of the children.” , DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: 2 Color Photos