We perish because we know not… #TLENews
A 100-year-old Elmwood Park man whose family said he suffered from dementia killed his 88-year-old wife with an ax as she slept, before taking his own life with a knife, according to authorities, becoming one of the oldest people ever accused of homicide.
Michael and Rosalia Juskin had a “history of domestic issues,” Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli said in a tweet on Monday evening. He said authorities had yet to determine a motive for the murder-suicide, which he said had taken place sometime late Sunday. The bodies were found early Monday after a relative, who was not at the home at the time of the violence, called police, authorities said.
Molinelli said Michael Juskin committed suicide in a bathroom at the couple’s Spruce Street home after killing his wife. He did not provide further details.
Elmwood Park Police Chief Michael Foligno said that the exact time of death was unknown and that he did not believe anyone else was in the two-family house when the killings happened. He referred all other questions to the Prosecutor’s Office.
Neighbors said they often saw the couple out and about — Michael walking his dog and Rosalia tending her garden. A family member who insisted on anonymity said Michael had been suffering from dementia, a condition that affects the brain and is sometimes related to aging.
“Sometimes he was lucid and sometimes he wasn’t,” the family member said.
The Juskins often “kept to themselves,” said one neighbor, Teresa Communicates. She said she had conversations with Rosalia as she worked in her garden but that Michael “wasn’t the type to converse.”
“It really is sad — and shocking, to be honest,” Communicates said.
Another neighbor, Dorota Biskup, 42, said police had been to the Juskin home a few times in recent years. Foligno confirmed that police had been there on several occasions over the years but did not provide details. Police reports of those incidents were unavailable Monday afternoon. Molinelli did not provide details about the couple’s domestic issues.
The Juskins had been living part time in a condominium complex in Gulfport, Fla., until they sold it a little more than a year ago, former neighbors from the complex said.
One of them, Carole Lynch, said Rosalia told her that Michael was “not well” but did not tell her specifically what was wrong with him. Lynch said Michael “didn’t talk much” but that she sometimes heard him “hollering through the door” as she passed the Juskins’ apartment.
More than a year ago, the Juskins moved to the east coast of Florida to be near a daughter, Lynch said. Rosalia wanted to live in Florida full time but told her that Michael wanted to keep their home in New Jersey, Lynch said. She remembered Rosalia as “a very sweet lady.”
One of the Juskins’ neighbors in Elmwood Park, Barbara Szczecina, said she last saw Rosalia sitting on her front porch at 10 a.m. Saturday.
“She used to be in her garden all the time,” said Szczecina, 65. “They were always together, putzing around outside.”
Another neighbor, Karen Bionda, 67, said she remembered seeing Michael walking his dog around the neighborhood. “I didn’t think stuff like this happened in nice neighborhoods, huh?” she said. “This is just too close to home.”
Family members who stood outside the Juskins’ home on Monday declined to comment. A woman who later answered the phone at a relative’s home said the family was too distraught to talk.
It could not be verified on Monday whether anyone older than Michael Juskin ever has been accused of committing a homicide.
In 2011, a 96-year-old woman became the oldest person ever charged with murder in Florida in the fatal shooting of her 53-year-old nephew. Authorities dropped the charges two years later after the woman was found to be not mentally competent to stand trial.
Last year, a Massachusetts woman who strangled her nursing home roommate in 2009 was ruled incompetent to stand trial at age 102. Authorities said the woman, who had a longstanding diagnosis of dementia, was the oldest murder defendant in the state’s history. The woman, who was committed to a psychiatric hospital, was 98 at the time of the killing.