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On Tuesday, June 11, 2019, PCSO homicide detectives arrested 73-year-old Ronald Strouse of Harte Drive in Lake Wales and charged him with one count first degree murder in the death of his wife, 72-year-old Susan Strouse. He was booked into the Polk County Jail and will have a first appearance hearing at 1:00 p.m. this afternoon (June 12, 2019).
The PCSO Emergency Communications Center received a 911 call around 4:30 p.m. on June 11th from Strouse, who told the call taker that he had been in a physical altercation with his wife and that she was dead. When deputies and Polk County Fire Rescue arrived on scene, they found the victim deceased in the living room with severe bruising. Strouse was sitting on the porch when they arrived.
The following is an excerpt from the affidavit, and is self-explanatory:
'The defendant stated during the evening hours on Monday June 10, 2019, the victim informed him she wanted to leave him, take all their money, and move out of their residence. The defendant further stated the victim would not tell him why she wanted to leave him, but that they only argued that night. The defendant advised on Tuesday June 11, 2019 at approximately 1200 hours, the victim made them both sausage sandwiches, though he was not hungry so he did not eat.
After lunch, the defendant stated the victim was lying on the couch watching TV, when he approached her and repeatedly asked her why she wanted to leave him. The defendant then stated the victim would not answer him and tell him why she wanted to leave him, which frustrated him. At that time, the defendant stated he grabbed the victim as she was lying on the couch and pulled her down to the floor, where they began to wrestle on the floor. The defendant further stated he then got on top of the victim and straddled her mid-section, as she was lying on her back. The defendant advised he then proceeded to place both of his hands around the victim's neck, where he began to choke her. The defendant then advised he knew his action of grabbing the victim by the neck and choking her could have resulted in her death. The defendant further advised as he was choking the victim, the victim was grabbing his arms/hands and digging her fingernails into him.
Once the victim stopped struggling and became motionless, the defendant stopped choking her. The defendant stated he called 911 after a few minutes.
On Tuesday June 11, 2019 at approximately 2023 hours, a search warrant was executed on the above-described residence. The victim's body was observed lying on the floor of the living room. Severe bruising was observed on the following areas of the victim's body: right forearm, right wrist, right upper arm, left forearm, left wrist, left upper arm, left side of her neck, front of her neck, right side of her neck, left side of her jaw, right side of her jaw, forehead, and above her left eye. These bruises are consistent with the victim having been battered.
This affiant established probable cause the defendant committed the criminal offense of 1st degree murder, when the defendant willfully and intentionally choked and battered the victim. The defendant made a conscious decision with a premeditated design to choke and strike the victim with his hands until she was deceased.'
"This was a particularly brutal murder. We aren't sure why Ronald Strouse murdered his wife of 50 years, but one thing we are sure of is that he will be held accountable for his actions." - Grady Judd, Sheriff
An autopsy will be conducted this morning.