A 51-year-old New Jersey construction contractor has been accused of murdering his wife in June and then dumping her fully-clothed body into the family swimming pool to make it look like she drowned, PEOPLE confirms.
Prosecutors say after Norman Long allegedly killed his 47-year-old wife, Michelle Long, he drove to a local Applebee’s for take-out and then returned to the couple’s upscale home in Woolwich Township, New Jersey, where he called 911 after pretending to discover her body in the pool.
An autopsy later determined that Michelle’s June 17 death was a homicide and that she died from blunt force trauma.
Long is accused of “purposely or knowingly” causing her death, “specifically by using physical force to cause blunt head and neck trauma,” according to an arrest complaint obtained by PEOPLE.
Prosecutors declined to discuss a motive in the case. “The prosecutor was asked that and didn’t want to speculate on why it happened,” Bernie Weisenfeld, spokesman with the Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office in New Jersey, tells PEOPLE.
“The main purpose of the investigation was to determine who did what,” Weisenfeld says.
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Long was arrested Tuesday at his home and charged with murder as well as fourth-degree concealing evidence for allegedly “disposing paper towels containing the blood of Michelle Long in the kitchen trashcan” and fourth-degree obstructing the administration of law for allegedly disposing of the blood-stained paper towels and placing Michelle in the swimming pool.
Long’s attorney, Daniel Rybeck, tells PEOPLE that his client has been under “psychiatric watch” at Ann Klein Forensic Center, a state psychiatric hospital in Trenton, since his arrest.
Rybeck says that Long has not yet entered a plea. “We are hoping to have a bail hearing next week,” he says.
The Longs had been married for more than 15 years. According to Rybeck, Norman owned a construction business in Gloucester County.
The couple bought their four-bedroom Woolwich home in 2003, the Newark Star-Ledger reports.
Norman filed for bankruptcy in April and had listed liabilities of more than $511,000, according to the Star-Ledger. He had also filed for bankruptcy in 2009, according to the paper.
Wife and Family Dog Found Dead
According to the criminal complaint, officers from the Woolwich Township Police Department were called to the Longs’ house at 8:35 p.m. on Saturday and found Norman and several neighbors performing CPR on Michelle in the backyard, next to the shallow end of their pool.
Neighbors alleged that Norman “became combative and had to be restrained to protect himself and others,” the complaint states. “They advised Norman appeared to be under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.”
Michelle was pronounced dead at the scene. Officers also found the Long’s dog, Martini, dead at the bottom of the deep end of the swimming pool — though Weisenfeld, with the prosecutor’s office, says, “There was nothing provable about how the dog died.”
During a search of the Long home, police discovered Michelle’s blood on paper towels in the kitchen trashcan. Also during the search, police found “suspected blood” on a section of hardwood floor near the kitchen and bottle of hardwood floor cleaner in the dishwasher, the complaint states.
“She was definitely the best mom and she did not deserve this at all,” Michelle’s daughter Brittany Maguire said at a Wednesday news conference. “We are all broken without her.”
“My mom was truly just the greatest person in the world,” she added. “She became a grandmother a year ago. My nephew’s first birthday was July 1 and we celebrated without her.”