The first court appearance for a man accused of beating his wife to death and then dumping her body in a backyard swimming pool was delayed after the suspect had an emotional breakdown, sources told NBC10.
Norman Long put up a physical fight and had to be forcibly brought to his detention hearing at the Gloucester County Justice Complex in Woodbury, New Jersey late Wednesday morning, according to sources. Once Long appeared, he showed little emotion as attorneys discussed the allegations against him.
Long is accused of murdering his wife, Michelle Long. The 47-year-old woman's fully clothed body was found in the swimming pool on the cul-de-sac of her home on Forrest Court in Woolwich Township, New Jersey back on June 17. The medical examiner ruled she died from blunt force trauma.
On August 2, six weeks after his wife's body was found, Norman Long, 51, was arrested and charged with "purposely or knowingly" causing her death and trying to cover his tracks. Long, a self-employed construction contractor, is accused of "using physical force to cause blunt force head and neck trauma," according to Gloucester County prosecutor Sean Dalton.
"It was a violent attack by him," said Dalton. "The medical examiner found that there was bruising on her hands, consistent with defensive wounds. There was a struggle."
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Long was committed to a state psychiatric hospital for observation following his arrest after stating he wanted to kill himself, Dalton said.
During Wednesday's hearing, more information was revealed about the timeline of the alleged murder, as well as a possible motive and evidence. Prosecutors say Michelle Long intended to leave her husband and was looking at homes for sale on the computer moments before she was killed.
"This is what happened as a result of him finding out about that," Dalton said.
Michelle Long's last text was at 5 p.m. on June 17 while her death occurred between 6:15 p.m. and 7 p.m. that evening. Prosecutors accuse Norman Long of beating her to death, placing her body in the swimming pool and then driving to a nearby car wash twice before spending 30 minutes at an Applebee's restaurant in Swedesboro three miles from his house.
"He removed himself from the scene for a time period, came up with the story that he found her in the pool," Dalton said.
Long then returned home and called authorities, telling first responders his wife had drowned, according to investigators.
Long "became combative" while CPR was being administered to his wife 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.
"The information that he provided was not consistent with the evidence," Dalton said.
In addition to first-degree murder, Long 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.
Michelle Long's loved ones shook their heads and shed tears Wednesday as defense attorneys asked the judge for leniency. Judge Kevin Smith ultimately ruled Norman Long's restaurant alibi and his wife's body in the pool was "an obstruction of justice," referring to it as a coverup that makes him a flight risk and a danger to the community.
Since his arrest, Norman Long has not been placed in jail because he continues to undergo a psychiatric evaluation to determine if he is fit for incarceration. Neither his attorneys or loved ones commented on the case to NBC10 Wednesday.
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 businesswoman," Dalton said.
Norman 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.