Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Prosecutor: Wife set disabled husband on fire, let him burn

An Australian woman is currently on trial for the brutal murder of her handicapped husband. Prosecutors allege that the couple was having serious problems, and that one morning she doused him with gasoline and set him on fire as he lay helpless in his bed — problems solved.

Beverley Dalziel, 47,  is on trial for the August 31, 2012, murder of her husband, Charles Dalziel, 67, who was found in the couple’s burnt-out home by firefighters. Beverly Dalziel called to report the fire from from the home’s land line, located next to her late husband’s bedside. According to Prosecutor Emma Wildman, “She was very calm when she made that call … you have to ask yourself how that fits with someone who had woken to find her husband in a life-threatening situation.”

When asked what she thought had caused the fire, Beverly Dalziel reportedly guessed that is was probably electrical, or else her husband had set himself on fire while smoking in bed. Arson investigators discovered that the blaze started at the foot of Charles Dalziel’s bed, and that an accellerant, like gasoline, had been used. Prosecutors say that Charles Dalziel was “totally reliant” on his wife, and physically incapable of setting the fire that took his life, that the accused was the only other person in the home at the time. She has denied any knowledge of the lighter and gas can investigators found in the kitchen.

Wildman stated that the Dalziel’s marriage had gone from bad to worse, “They more than did not get along, they did not like each other at all. They fought, sometimes these fights would get physical.” A renter on the property allegedly overheard Beverly Dalziel say during a fight with Charles, “I am going to kill you one day.”

In the weeks before Dalziel’s death he called for an ambulance on four separate occasions, once he was found by EMTs bruised and naked on the floor in nothing but a diaper. During that period, he reportedly slept with a knife for protection.

Beverly Dalziel has pleaded not guilty. The trial is expected to run about three weeks.

Slideshow: Fire starters

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