An armed woman shot and killed during a standoff in eastern Pennsylvania following a vehicle pursuit last week had a history of mental illness and believed police were trying to kidnap, sexually assault and murder her, authorities allege in court documents.
Betty Jane Tibaldi, 54, fled from Pocono Township police with her husband after encountering officers in Bartonsville late Tuesday night, state police said. An hours-long standoff on Route 611 ensued until police allege that she aimed a handgun at troopers and fired once before being struck and killed by return fire early Wednesday.
Tibaldi's 77-year-old husband, Nello, told investigators that his wife believed police “routinely kidnap, rape and murder people.” Another relative said she had schizophrenia, had previously been taken out of a New York hotel by a SWAT team during a mental health crisis, and refused to take medication, according to police.
A negotiator said she was “rambling with paranoid delusions and religious ideas relative to the devil and the portals of hell.” Troopers connected her with a relative who encouraged her to surrender peacefully, but she “interpreted this as him being held hostage,” police said.
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Hours into the standoff, Nello Tibaldi told investigators, he decided to surrender and left his gun in the truck with his wife, who was barred from owning a firearm. Asked why he hadn’t thrown it from the car, he called it “their final form of protection from police,” police allege.
Nello Tibaldi was charged with a felony firearms count and a charge of having recklessly endangered officers. He was held in Monroe County jail unable to post bail pending a hearing Tuesday. Court documents don't list a defense attorney and a listed number for him was no longer in service.