When Elizabeth Capaldi vanished in October, her husband of 30 years told investigators that she left him after confessing that she had been having an affair for three years.
Their adult daughter was highly skeptical: Her 55-year-old mother was a homebody and she left behind her car, her keys, her iPad, her cellphone, and her elderly mom in a nursing home.
Capaldi, who had never been away from home alone overnight, didn’t have a passport. She had not used any credit cards or withdrawn any cash. And she had not picked up her prescription inhaler.
Police searched the devices left in the Sellersville home and found no indication that she had been cheating on her husband.
But, authorities revealed this week, when they had an expert scour Stephen Capaldi’s devices, they learned that he had been having an affair for six months with a woman who supported his dream of opening a comic book shop.
Even more concerning, according a grand jury report on the case, they found Internet searches for a series of chilling phrases:
“How to get away with murder”
“How to delete Facebook messages”
“Can a polygraph be skewed”
“How to increase your dark impulses”
“How to disappear and never be found.”
He had also searched for quick-curing cement, a reciprocating saw, and a do-it-yourself blacklight that can be used to detect blood unseen by the naked eye.
Further forensic investigation revealed that much Stephen Capaldi had told detectives about what he was doing before and after his wife went missing—from a supposedly tender last moment watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer on the sofa to a solo fishing trip—was a lie.
According to the Bucks County District Attorney, Capaldi agreed to testify before a grand jury, and the panel’s report paints his Dec. 8 appearance as an epic disaster.
Not only did he admit to one lie after another, he “unquestionably failed” a polygraph exam he agreed to take during a break in testimony, the grand jury said.
“Although he still denied being involved in his wife’s murder and disappearance, Mr. Capaldi did agree that the evidence was overwhelming that he was involved,” the grand jury drily noted in its report.
Confronted with the growing mountain of evidence against him, Stephen Capaldi cut a deal with prosecutors, agreeing to plead guilty in exchange for a sentence of 20 to 40 years.
“Stephen Capaldi stated that on the morning of Oct. 10, 2002, he strangled Elizabeth Capaldi while she was sleeping in their bed. During the strangulation, Stephen Capaldi also utilized a pillow to smother her,” the grand jury wrote.
As part of the deal, he led police to the places where he dumped the remains: in a dumpster and buried along the shoreline of the Delaware River. DNA tests confirmed last week that the body parts belonged to Elizabeth.
“My beautiful mother is gone from this world. She made me who I am. She touched so many people,” her daughter, Emma, wrote on Facebook after getting the news.
DA Matt Weintraub said the victim’s family supported the deal so they could get the answers they needed.
“I explained the principles and goals I focused on in my negotiations with the defendant. First: To find Beth Capaldi alive if possible—I am so sorry that this was not possible; her family was devastated by this news. If not, then to bring her back to her family, and to bring her killer to justice.”
The grand jury had its own idea of what justice would be.
“We also hope that Stephen Capaldi, given his deceit and total lack of remorse, remains incarcerated for the rest of his natural-born life,” they wrote.