06/13/2024

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John E. Berthold (Eau Claire County Jail) and deputies outside the home where he killed his wife (WEAU screenshot)

Husband said he beat ‘narcissist’ wife to death with unopened wine bottle because he just ‘couldn’t take it anymore’

John E. Berthold (Eau Claire County Jail) and deputies outside the home where he killed his wife (WEAU screenshot)

An 81-year-old man in Wisconsin will likely spend the rest of his life behind bars for killing his 77-year-old wife last year, telling authorities that he beat her to death with an unopened bottle of sparkling grape juice because she was a “narcissist” and he just couldn’t deal with her any longer. John E. Berthold on Thursday pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree intentional homicide with a domestic abuse modifier for the 2023 slaying of Diane Berthold, court records reviewed by Law&Crime show.

Attorneys representing John Berthold reached a deal with prosecutors in which they agreed to downgrade the initial charge of first-degree intentional homicide and remove a modifier that would have resulted in an “increased penalty” because the victim of the crime was an elderly person.

Eau Claire Circuit Court Judge Beverly Wickstrom left a $2 million bond in place and ordered the state department of corrections to complete a pre-sentence investigation by July 18. Berthold’s legal team is required to complete its own investigation by August 30.

According to a report from the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram, one of the couple’s sons on July 13, 2023, went to his parents home in the 3400 block of McElroy Court in the Town of Washington and believed it was either empty or that his mother and father were napping.

However, a short while later, the Bertholds’ son reportedly told authorities that he suddenly heard someone “seemingly uncontrollably yelling” from his parents’ bedroom, police reportedly wrote in the affidavit.

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    The son reportedly went to inspect the source of the commotion, which is when he entered the bedroom and found his father with a plastic bag over his head, apparently trying to kill himself. The son pulled the bag off of his father’s head and attempted to resuscitate the man before calling 911.

    When the son turned on the lights, he found Diane Berthold dead with a towel covering her face.

    In an interview with authorities, John Berthold admitted to killing his wife, telling detectives that she was a “narcissist” and he simply “couldn’t take it anymore,” Eau Claire ABC affiliate WQOW reported. He further explained that he’d been thinking about killing his wife for weeks before finally going through with it and beating her with the unopened sparkling juice bottle while she was asleep.

    Investigators reportedly spoke to John and Diane Berthold’s financial advisor, who explained that the couple had been preparing to get a divorce, but they decided against it in the days before Diane Bethold’s murder. In an interview with police, John Berthold said he was primarily motivated to eschew the divorce and kill his wife because she wanted to divide their estate up evenly amongst their kids and grandkids, which he did not want to happen.

    Additionally, John Berthold expressed little remorse for the murder, telling police that he would do it again if given the chance, per WQOW.

    Berthold is currently scheduled to appear before Wickstrom again on September 18, for his sentencing hearing.

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    The post Husband said he beat ‘narcissist’ wife to death with unopened wine bottle because he just ‘couldn’t take it anymore’ first appeared on Law & Crime.