Pennsylvania pastor Arthur 'A.B.' Schirmer was sentenced to life
in prison without parole on Monday for murdering his second wife, Betty Jean Schirmer, bludgeoning her to death with a blunt object in 2008, according to grand jury testimony.
A jury in Stroudsburg found Schirmer, 64, guilty in January. He is also awaiting trial for the alleged 1999 murder of his first wife, Jewel Schirmer, 50, who he claimed fell down a flight of stairs. She died the following day of a traumatic brain injury. Police started investigating Jewel's death after the disgraced pastor's second wife passed away.
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The former Methodist pastor clubbed Betty Jean, 56, to death with a crowbar, prosecutors said, before loading her into their car and staging a low-speed accident in an attempt to conceal the crime.
In court, Schirmer said he was driving Betty Jean to a local hospital because she was complaining of a jaw pain. To get comfortable in the car, she removed her seat belt. A deer ran in front of the car, causing him to swerve and hit a guard rail, forcing Betty Jean to hit the windshield and die on impact.
Authorities countered Schirmer's story, saying that the car's damage was too minor to have been responsible for her death.
"We find it particularly disturbing and difficult to believe that both of A.B. Schirmer's wives could have suffered such horrific injuries by accident. To the contrary, we believe probable cause exists to believe that neither woman died from an accident," the grand jury said in a report.
Schirmer faced financial hardships. He also had multiple affairs with women in his church.
Betty Jean's sister Sandy Weikel expressed her disgust to the courtroom.
"I never in a million years thought I'd be standing here in this nightmare," she said, according to the Pocono Record. "A.B., we invited you into our home. You ate at our table. We didn't have a clue of the person you really are. I just wish you'd divorced Bets instead of taking away a daughter, a sister, a mother and grandmother. You're an evil, sick man. I hope you suffer."
Schirmer continues to deny that he was in any way responsible for the deaths of either of his wives.
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