December 20, 2022
Warning: description of murder to follow. Reader discretion is advised.
Elizabeth "Beth" Capaldi was reported missing by her daughter, Emma Capaldi on October 12, 2022.
Emma contacted the Perkasie Borough Police Department to file a missing person report on her mother. She was last seen at her home at 254 High Street, Sellersville, in Perkasie Borough, Bucks County, PA, on October 10, 2022, by her husband, Stephen Capaldi, 57.
Elizabeth Capaldi was 55 years old at the time she went missing, and according to police reports, had no known history of psychological diagnoses, nor any prior history of going missing.
Elizabeth did not take any personal items, nor her vehicle with her. Everyday important belongings that she would usually not leave the house without, including her purse, money, and cell phone, were left behind at the couple’s home. She did not have a passport or a birth certificate.
The missing woman was described as a homebody by her daughter, who didn’t take trips and didn’t have too many friends. Her elderly mother was also in a nursing home nearby, and she would never go anywhere without keeping in contact with her daughter or mother. Additionally, Elizabeth had not taken any items that her daughter pointed out she would take on such a trip, like her duffle bag, washbag, hairdryer, and other items she would need. Although she didn’t work, Elizabeth had appointments which she missed, and prescriptions that she neglected to pick up or transfer to any other pharmacy. Her bank accounts remained untouched.
When officers arrived to the Capaldi’s home on High Street on October 12, 2022, they were informed by Emma Capaldi that her father had explained that he and Elizabeth had gotten into an intense argument at his discovery of a three-year-long affair his wife had been having behind his back. According to Emma, her father had told her that Elizabeth admitted the affair to him, and while searching the home after she went missing, Stephen alleged that $13,000 in cash had been taken, presumably, by his wife.
When asked the name of, and any details about, the man with whom his wife was having an affair, Stephen Capaldi had no information.
When questioned of his whereabouts on the day his wife went missing, Capaldi told police officers that he was viewing rental properties in Lansdale before going fishing and returning home.
When asked where he thought his wife could be, he responded that she was probably on a beach somewhere with her supposed lover. Despite his alleged belief that his wife had run off with another man, he told police that several days after she went missing, he had handed out flyers in Philadelphia.
Initially, it appeared that Stephen Capaldi was cooperating with police. He was interviewed several times following the missing person report and each time gave the same account.
Stephen Capaldi continued to tell the same story he had from the start, until, on December 8, 2022, before the Bucks County Investigating Grand Jury, he finally caved and confessed to killing his wife while she slept on the morning of October 10, 2022, but tried to maintain the other lies he had told.
The suspect described strangling his sleeping wife as she slept in the master bedroom and smothering her with a pillow. He explained that he then moved her body to another bedroom in the home, before eventually dragging her to the basement where he got to work dismembering her body on October 12, 2022. Mr. Capaldi admitted to buying items to conduct the dismemberment and disposal of his wife’s body.
A warrant for arrest was issued for Stephen Capaldi for the following violations: Murder of the third degree, Possessing instruments of a crime, Tampering with evidence, or fabricating physical evidence, Obstructing the administration of the Law and Abuse of a corpse.
Elizabeth's devices were searched, and no evidence of any affair was found. Searches or visits to websites pertaining to travel were also not found on the device, suggesting that the victim had not been making any plans to her marriage, nor leave her home voluntarily.
When investigators searched Stephen Capaldi’s devices, however, they discovered the following prompts and key words:
"How to get away with murder," "How to delete Facebook messages," "Can you avoid police detection by turning off your phone?" "can a polygraph be skewed?" "How to control your dark impulses," "How to disappear and never be found," "FBI Handbook of crime scene forensics," as well as searches for items presumed to be used in the disposal and clean-up of the victim's body, such as reciprocating saw, quikrete cement and DIY Blacklight.
Police discovered that Mr. Capaldi had taken his wife’s vehicle late one night, after midnight, on November 05, 2022, when questioned about why he did this, he said that he wanted to collect driftwood from the beach. Police found that he had driven his own vehicle to the same location the night before, powering his cell phone off for each trip.
Investigators looked into the alibi Stephen had provided them with, and although he was in Lansdale as he had claimed, it was not to view rental apartments but to visit the woman with whom he had been having an affair for around six months. The suspect denied that the relationship was sexual, however, this was later proven to be a lie after messages Stephen Capaldi had deleted before turning his phone over the police were recovered using forensic extraction methods.
The suspect began to admit to his lies, telling police that he had never handed out missing flyers like he said he had. Slowly, the truth began to come out in drips.
Further investigation into the suspect revealed that Stephen Capaldi was in debt, and had taken out a loan of $27,000 to pay off numerous other debts and credit card debt. When questioned about how he accumulated such debts, the suspect told investigators that he had been buying comic books and, according to a grand Jury report, nodded when police put forth the theory that Capaldi murdered his wife because she didn't support his dream of opening his own comic book store and he had found another woman who did. Police informed the suspect that they doubted he kept $13,000 in cash in his home, which Mr. Capaldi accused his missing wife of stealing, Capaldi maintained this to be true and said he had made the money from selling comic books. Investigation found that the value of sold items was closer to $8000.
Although Elizabeth Capaldi was considered missing, and not dead, Stephen Capaldi asked the prosecution for the Commonwealth whether or not police had recovered his wife’s remains. With the evidence stacked against him, the suspect admitted to the murder and disposal of his wife’s body, as well as his attempts to evade the law and cover up the activities surrounding the event.
Mr. Capaldi agreed to assist authorities in retrieving some of his wife's remains, which were recently discovered in the woods on Hog Island, near Philadelphia International Airport. In return, Capaldi's charges were reduced.
It is believed Capaldi disposed of the remains in different areas, including the Delaware river and an apartment complex dumpster.
Stephen Capaldi is expected to plead guilty and to be sentenced to anywhere between 20 to 40 years. He will not be eligible for parole until he is in his late seventies.
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