Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Bristol Twp. man shoots wife, kills himself, police say

Wife is in critical condition. Couple's daughter and grandson escaped safely.

Bristol Twp. man shoots wife, kills himself, police say

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The Todd home on Hazel Avenue in Bristol Township. (Bill Reed/Staff)

A Bristol Township construction worker who threatened to kill his wife or himself about 11/2 years ago shot her in the head Thursday night and then committed suicide, according to a police spokesman and court documents.

The shooting occurred about 8 p.m., as the couple’s daughter fled the home with her young son “fearing for their lives,” Police Lt. Terry Hughes said.

Mary Todd, 51, of Hazel Avenue, was listed in critical condition Friday in a medically induced coma at Aria Health-Torresdale Campus, Hughes and a hospital spokeswoman said.

She was shot once in the head at close range with a .380-caliber handgun, Hughes said. A second shot apparently missed her and was lodged in a wall, he said.

Her husband, Edward Todd II, 51, then shot himself, Hughes said. The coroner ruled the cause of death as a suicide by a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, Hughes said.

The daughter, Brittany Todd, called 911 as she and her son, Joseph, about 2, jumped in their car and drove away, police and a neighbor said.

“The call said that the father had shot the mother in the head and was in the house and was intoxicated,” Hughes said. The daughter heard only two shots, he said.

On Nov. 20, 2010, Edward Todd threatened to kill his wife if she sought a divorce, according to a complaint she filed three weeks later.

Mary Todd told police her husband had ripped off her clothes, pointed a semiautomatic gun at her head, and threatened to kill her, according to the affidavit of probable cause.

He also “pointed the firearm at himself and threatened to commit suicide in front of her so that she would have to suffer living with the guilt,” according to the affidavit.

Brittany Todd returned home to find her mother wresting the gun from her father, according to the affidavit.

Edward Todd was charged with simple assault, making terroristic threats, recklessly endangering another person, and harassment. But at his preliminary hearing on Jan. 11, 2011, Mary Todd recanted her statement, and the charges were dismissed, said Robert James, Bucks County deputy district attorney.

Hughes said he could not say whether the gun allegedly used in the 2010 incident was the same as the one used Thursday. And he could not say whether that gun or the “multiple” weapons in the house were registered.

Police removed only the handgun that had been fired, he said. “There was no need to take the [other] guns out of the house.”

Harry Bose, who lives across the street from the Todd house, said he had talked to the husband that afternoon, and “everything seemed normal.”

“He had just sold his mother’s house, cleaned it out, and was unloading his truck,” Bose said.

Edward Todd did remodeling and construction work, while his wife was a “stay-at-home mom,” Bose said. He owned two motorcycles, and the couple would take evening rides on one of them, Bose said.

“It seemed like they were getting along,” he said. “It was a shock to me.”

The couple’s son, Edward Todd III, who did not live in the house, also was shocked, Bose said.

“He kept saying he couldn’t believe his father did that,” the neighbor said.

Another neighbor, Paula Dean, said the Todds, who have lived on the quiet block for about 25 years, “were a very nice family until about five years ago.”

They used to keep the house and yard nice, said Dean’s daughter, Janet Morelli, who lives behind the Todds’ house, “and then they just let everything go.”

“We kept wondering what happened,” she said.

Their son graduated from high school and moved out about that time, “and that’s when it happened,” Morelli said.

In the close-knit neighborhood, “we watch out for each other,” Bose said.
“You see it [shootings] on TV all the time,” he said, “but you never expect to see it on your own block.”

About this blog
Chris Palmer covers Bucks County for the Philadelphia Inquirer. His previous work has appeared in the New York Times and on several Times blogs, including City Room, the Local East Village and SchoolBook (which has since been taken over by WNYC). Contact him at cpalmer@phillynews.com, 610 313 8212 or on Twitter, @cs_palmer.

Ben Finley covers Bucks County for The Philadelphia Inquirer. He previously worked for The Associated Press, FactCheck.org and the Bucks County Courier Times, where he won more than a dozen journalism awards from organizations including the Education Writers Association, the Society for Features Journalism and the Pennsylvania Bar Association. He grew up in Columbus, Ohio and graduated with honors from The Ohio State University with a degree in journalism. Contact him at bfinley@phillynews.com, 610-313-8118 or on Twitter, @Ben_Finley.

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