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NE Phila. Man, 75, Now Charged With Murdering Wife and Faking Home Invasion

(The scene of Judith Hartdegen's murder is investigated by police.  Credit: CBS3)

(The scene of Judith Hartdegen’s murder is investigated by police. Credit: CBS3)

Mike DeNardo Mike DeNardo
Mike DeNardo, a veteran of KYW Newsradio for more than 25 years,...
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By Mike DeNardo

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — It was originally reported to police as a home invasion, but now Philadelphia police say it’s a case of domestic abuse that led to homicide.

Judith Hartdegen, 74, was killed, and now her 75-year-old husband Louis is charged with murder (See Related Story).

Capt. James Clark, head of the police department’s homicide unit, said this morning that Hartdegen made up the story about the home invasion in an attempt to cover up the fact that he had just suffocated his wife during a domestic dispute.

The incident happened about 2:30 a.m. Monday in the couple’s home in the 6700 block of Castor Avenue.

According to Clark, Hartdegen had initially reported that a neighbor had broken into the house, sexually assaulted and suffocated his wife, and attacked him.

But Clark says Hartdegen’s status went from victim to suspect when detectives found inconsistencies in his story. When detectives went back to Hartdegen, Clark says, Hartdegen confessed to the murder.

The specific motive was not clear, although there were reports that the couple had filed for bankruptcy in February.

The neighbor who was initially taken into custody for questioning was released.

The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office has charged Hartdegen with Murder, Possession of an Instrument of a Crime (PIC), Abuse of Corpse, False Reports, Unsworn Falsifying and Aggravated Indecent Assault.

Hartdegen is scheduled to be arraigned Monday night.  He will be held without bail once he is arraigned.