A Cape Coral octogenarian fired a bullet into his wife’s temple as she lay in bed, then moved her body after the killing, stashed bloody pieces of evidence and staged the crime scene before dialing 911, according to an arrest report.
Joseph Rodriguez, 82, denied tampering with evidence. He said his wife was fine when she went to bed June 26 and he found her dead in a pool of blood the next morning, according to officer Thomas Rall’s report.
While Rodriquez told authorities his wife, Wanda Rodriguez, 75, committed suicide, forensic evidence found inside the elderly couple’s Cape Coral home at 2317 S.E. 27th St. pointed to foul play. He was arrested six days after the incident and charged with second-degree homicide.
Officers and paramedics discovered Wanda Rodriguez lying on her back on her bedroom floor after Joseph Rodriguez called emergency dispatchers at about 7:30 a.m. Blood stains on the top of her bed and bloody prints on her ankles indicated her body had been moved, according to the report.
“The victim was found on the floor and it is clear the victim was moved from the original location on the bed to the floor,” wrote Rall. “Blood evidence shows the body had been moved several times.”
Dr. Barbara Wolfe of the Lee County Medical Examiner’s Office determined during an autopsy that Wanda Rodriguez’s injuries would have instantly rendered her immobile, and emergency personnel on scene said they had not moved the body, according to the report.
The medical examiner concluded suicide was an impossibility and ruled the case a homicide, the report states.
Rall said he found a gun that had been wiped down with a bloody cloth lying under the bed near Wanda Rodriguez’s body and a dried blood smear left by a glove on the night stand.
Joseph Rodriguez reportedly said he’d given his wife the gun four years ago, when they began sleeping in different rooms at opposite ends of their home. Wanda Rodriguez’s daughter and friends later told authorities she never owned a gun and intentionally avoided them.
A glass of water and Wanda Rogriguez’s eyeglasses had been placed on top of the dried blood on her night stand, and Joseph Rodriguez’s fingerprints were lifted from the glass, according to the report.
“No blood was found on the glass at all indicating that the glass had been put on the table after removal of the gloves as an act of staging,” wrote Rall. “Dried blood was found under the glass.”
Investigators also found a pair of cloth gloves soaking in a can of bleach under a workbench in the garage. Rall said one of the gloves later tested positive for blood. A pair of blood-spattered shorts was also tucked away in the bottom of a garage cabinet and there was a blood smear on the front bumper of Wanda Rodriguez’s car, which was parked next to the workbench, according to Rall.
Joseph Rodriguez told Rall he never heard a gunshot during the night and that two air conditioning units at his home may have drowned out the sound.
When asked about the glass of water and eyeglasses placed on the dried blood on his wife’s nightstand, he denied touching anything.
“A short time later, Mr. Rodriguez requested an attorney and all questioning ceased,” wrote Rall. “Mr. Rodriguez then stood up to exit the interview and stated that, ‘I know you know I did it.’”
A judge denied Joseph Rodriguez bond and he remains in the Lee County Jail. His attorney did not return calls seeking comment Monday.