On Monday, former Methodist pastor Arthur Schirmer was sentenced to life in prison without parole for killing his second wife. He was convicted of first degree murder.
Schirmer’s wife, Better Schirmer, died in July of 2008. Police originally believed the woman died from head and brain injuries suffered in a car crash that occurred while Arthur Schirmer was driving.
At the time, Schirmer told police he was driving his wife to the emergency room for jaw pain when he swerved off the road to avoid hitting a deer. The car hit a guard rail, and Betty Schirmer was pronounced dead at the scene.
However, several months later, a member of Schirmer’s church committed suicide in his office. Before killing himself, the man revealed that Schirmer was having an affair with his wife, a church secretary. The alleged affair prompted a more thorough investigation of Betty Schirmer’s death.
Upon more rigorous investigation, authorities concluded that the fender-bender accident could not have caused Betty Schirmer’s fatal head and brain injuries. Police found blood on Schirmer’s garage floor, as well as evidence that he tried to clean the blood up.
Investigators now believe Schirmer killed his wife by hitting her on the head with a crow bar. Authorities assert that after killing his wife, Schirmer put her in the passenger seat of his car and purposefully crashed into a guardrail in an attempt to conceal his crime.
Arthur Schirmer’s first wife, Jewel Schirmer, died in April of 1999. The findings of Betty Schirmer’s death prompted a re-investigation of Jewel Schirmer’s death.
For years, Monroe County police believed Arthur Schirmer’s narrative that he was out for a run in April of 1999 when he returned home and found his wife dead in a pool of blood at the bottom of the basement steps.
After the re-investigation, Schirmer has been charged with killing his first wife as well. He awaits trial in that case.
The Pennsylvania jury deliberated for 90 minutes on Monday before declaring Arthur Schirmer, 64, guilty of murdering Betty Schirmer.
"My mom is finally able to rest in peace," Betty Schirmer's son, Nate Novack, said after the sentencing. "We do have some closure and it's a great day overall, even though the life conviction isn't going to bring my mom back."
Schirmer is maintaining his innocence in both cases.