Elderly Man Beats Wife to Death with Bottle of Sparkling Juice

Eau Claire, Wisconsin – An 81-year-old man has pleaded guilty to the second-degree intentional homicide of his 77-year-old wife, resulting in the likelihood of spending the rest of his life behind bars. John E. Berthold admitted to beating Diane Berthold to death with an unopened bottle of sparkling grape juice, citing her narcissistic behavior as the motive. The plea deal downgraded the initial charge from first-degree intentional homicide and removed the modifier that would have resulted in an increased penalty due to the victim’s age.

According to court records and local reports, the couple’s son discovered the gruesome scene on July 13, 2023, while checking on his parents’ home. He heard yelling from the bedroom and rushed to investigate. Shockingly, he found his father with a plastic bag over his head in an attempted suicide. Removing the bag, he tragically discovered his mother dead, with a towel covering her face.

During interviews with authorities, John Berthold confessed to killing his wife, expressing his inability to cope with her narcissistic traits. He revealed that the thought of murdering her had been on his mind for weeks before finally carrying out the fatal act while she slept. The motive for the crime extended beyond their strained relationship, as financial matters played a significant role. The couple had considered divorce but ultimately abandoned the idea. John Berthold’s reluctance stemmed from his aversion to dividing their estate evenly among their children and grandchildren.

With little remorse for his actions, Berthold expressed to the police that he would repeat the crime if given the chance. A pre-sentence investigation by the state department of corrections is set to be completed by July 18, followed by Berthold’s own legal team’s investigation by August 30. Berthold is scheduled for his sentencing hearing on September 18.

The guilty plea ensures that John Berthold will face the consequences of his actions and likely spend the remainder of his life in prison for murdering his wife.