Six weeks after a woman was found in her backyard swimming pool beaten to death, prosecutors in South Jersey charged her husband with "purposely or knowingly" causing her death and trying to cover his tracks.
Norman Long allegedly ordered food at a local restaurant as part of that effort, the Gloucester County Prosecutor's Office said Wednesday.
The death of Michelle Long was ruled a homicide after the county medical examiner determined the 47-year-old woman died of blunt force trauma. Her body was found June 17 at her home, which is located on the cul-de-sac of Forrest Court in Woolwich Township, prosecutors said.
"Mr. Long killed his wife inside their home then placed her fully clothed body in their backyard swimming pool," Dalton alleged.
Long, a self-employed construction contractor, is accused of "using physical force to cause blunt force head and neck trauma," Dalton said.
After placing his wife's body in the pool, Long went to an area Applebee's restaurant to grab food before returning, calling authorities and telling first responders his wife drowned, Dalton alleged.
"The information that he provided was not consistent with the evidence," Dalton said.
In addition to first-degree murder, the 51-year-old suspect also faces a count of concealing evidence and obstruction for placing his wife's body in the pool and "disposing paper towels containing the blood of Michelle Long in the kitchen trash can," Dalton said.
Long "became combative" while CPR was being administered to his wife on June 17 and had to be restrained, according to a police report. A small dog was also found dead in the pool when police arrived around 8:35 p.m.
Family members called Michelle Long a loving person.
"She did not deserve this at all, we are broken without her," Michelle Long's daughter Brittany Maguire said.
"She was known by friends and by family alike as a very caring, happy person, a successful business woman," Dalton said.
Dalton didn't give a motive for the alleged killing.
Long was committed to a state psychiatric hospital for observation following his arrest Tuesday after stating he wanted to kill himself, Dalton said.
An attorney for Long did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.
Long doesn't face any animal cruelty charges in relation to the death of the dog as there is a lack of evidence, prosecutors said.