Dateline: Unforgettable is taking a closer look at the murder of Betty Schirmer by her husband, Arthur Schirmer, a former pastor at Reeders United Methodist Church in Poconos, Pennsylvania.
In the early hours of July 16, 2008, Betty died at Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest after a car crash on Route 715 in Pocono Township.
Her husband told police that around 2am the previous morning, his 56-year-old wife had jaw pain, so he decided to take her to the emergency room.
While driving his 2007 Chrysler PT Cruiser north on Route 715, he had to swerve to avoid hitting a deer. He instead hit a guardrail near the intersection with Railroad Avenue and ran off the road.
During the crash, Arthur said his wife wasn’t wearing her seatbelt, and she was thrown around the vehicle.
She suffered multiple severe injuries to her head.
Suicide prompted police to re-open Betty Schirmer’s case for a thorough investigation
Shortly after 9am on October 29, 2008, a woman found her husband shot to death in Arthur’s office at Reeders United Methodist Church.Watch the Latest on our YouTube Channel
The Monroe County Coroner’s Office ruled his death a suicide.
An investigation revealed that the 50-year-old killed himself after he found out his wife, a secretary at the church, was allegedly having an affair with Arthur.
Since it was the second tragedy tied to Arthur that year, detectives decided to take another look at the deaths of his first and second wives.
In 1999, Arthur’s second wife, Jewel, 50, was found dead at the bottom of the basement stairs in the home she and Arthur shared in Lebanon County.
When an autopsy revealed that Jewel had a massive heart attack before she fell, the medical examiner ruled her cause of death undetermined.
A police investigation leads to Arthur Schirmer’s arrest
Arthur initially told investigators that he was driving 55 mph, but an investigation revealed he was traveling at 25 mph.
At that speed, investigators determined that Betty couldn’t have sustained multiple severe head injuries.
When investigators analyzed the blood pattern inside the vehicle, they concluded that Betty was attacked before she entered the car.
After obtaining a warrant to search the couple’s home, spots of her blood were found inside their garage.
In October 2009, Betty’s cause of death was changed to homicide.
Arthur was arrested the following month on charges of first-degree murder.
Prosecutors said he bludgeoned Betty to death with a crowbar, and they believe it was premeditated.
He was also charged with his second wife’s death after an investigation revealed that Jewel’s heart attack wasn’t caused by a fall. It was caused by head trauma.
In March 2013, Arthur was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the murder of his second wife.
He was sentenced to 20 to 40 years in prison for the death of his first wife.
Dateline: Unforgettable airs Mondays at 8/7c on Oxygen.