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Police: Pastor Killed Wife, Staged Scene to Look Like Accident

Philadelphia Inquirer via YellowBrix

September 14, 2010

POCONOS, PA – A Methodist pastor in the Poconos has been arrested and charged with killing his wife two years after he claimed she died when he crashed their car to avoid hitting a deer, State Police said today.

Police said they reopened the investigation in November 2008 after a suicide at the Reeders United Methodist where the Rev. Arthur Burton Schirmer, 62, was pastor.

Details about the suicide and its relationship to the case were not disclosed.

In July 2008, Schirmer, who was arrested Sunday, told police his 56-year-old wife Betty Jean Schirmer was fatally injured when he swerved to avoid a deer in Pocono Township.

But after police reopened the investigation, a forensic pathologist and the Lehigh County Coroner reviewed the case and found that the blunt force trauma that killed Betty Jean Schirmer could not have been caused by what was determined to be a minor, low-speed crash, police said. They also said she was bleeding before the crash.

The police reportedly also found blood in the parsonage garage.

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