LAKE WALES, Fla. (FOX 13) - An elderly man is accused of murdering his wife after she told him she wanted to leave him, the Polk County Sheriff's Office said.
Homicide detectives arrested 73-year-old Ronald Strouse of Lake Wales on Tuesday for the murder of his wife, 72-year-old Susan Strouse.
The sheriff's office said Ronald called 911 around 4:30 p.m. Tuesday and told dispatchers his wife was dead. He was sitting on the porch when deputies arrived, responding deputies said.
"When the call-taker asked what was going on, is she still there, he made the comment 'she's no longer with us.' When we asked, 'what does that mean?' he said 'she's dead,'" said Polk County Sheriff spokesperson Carrie Horstman.
According to the sheriff's office, Ronald said Susan told him Monday night that she "wanted to leave him" and "take all their money," but would not tell him why.
The next day, he said he confronted her and repeatedly asked her why she wanted to leave him. When she refused to answer, he said he grabbed her from the couch and pulled her down ot the floor.
That's when Ronald said he got on top of his wife and straddled her mid-section, then started choking her.
Deputies said Susan fought back, grabbing his arms and hands as she dug her fingernails into his skin.
Ronald told investigators he stopped choking her once she became motionless. He called 911 a few minutes later, he said.
"The murder itself is brutal to choke someone to death like that, again she had bruising on her body," Horstman said. "It is extremely troubling that he would do this to his wife of 50 years."
Detectives said Susan's body had severe bruises on her wrists, arms, face and neck; the sheriff's office said the bruises were consistent with the victim having been battered.
"This was a particularly brutal murder. We aren't sure why Ronald Strouse murdered his wife of 50 years, but one thing we are sure of is that he will be held accountable for his actions," said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd.
Strouse has been charged with one count of first-degree murder.