Two Caroline County women have been charged with the murder of Louis R. Nichols, 71, whose body was found in the Choptank River near Denton on Sunday morning.
Nichols lived in a house with the two women charged in his murder, Charlene Weddle and her friend, Mary Chider. Weddle is the daughter of Nichols' wife, who died about a month ago, police say.
Maryland State Police have identified the first suspect as Charlene R. Weddle, 45, of the 300 block of South Fourth Street, Denton, Md. She's charged with first and second degree murder and first degree assault. Following her initial appearance before a court commissioner, Weddle was incarcerated in the Caroline County Detention Center without bond.
The second suspect is identified as Mary S. Chider, 34, of the same address. She is charged with first and second degree murder and first and second degree assault. She will be taken before a court commissioner for an initial appearance later this morning.
Residents in the neighborhood say they heard arguing coming from the house all the time. Then, friends say that after Weddle's mother passed away last month, death threats began to occur.
Police say that at about 11:00 a.m. Sunday, a man fishing in the Choptank River just north of business Rt. 404, saw a body in the water near the west bank of the river, not far from the old Rt. 404 bridge.
An autopsy determined the victim was murdered. Forensic pathologists found the victim had cutting wounds to his head and hands, likely sustained while trying to defend himself.
According to the medical examiner, the victim had also sustained blunt force trauma to the head and had been asphyxiated. Autopsy evidence indicated the victim was already dead when his body was placed in the river.
Police say that Nichols had cut wounds to his head and hands, possibly in an attempt to defend himself.
State Police homicide investigators obtained search warrants and processed the victim's home and vehicle for evidence. Inside his home, investigators found blood and other evidence that indicates the victim was murdered there. Inside his vehicle, a conversion type van, they found blood evidence consistent with a body that was bleeding being transported in the vehicle.
During interviews with friends and witnesses, investigators learned Weddle was heard threatening to kill the victim Saturday night. A witness also saw Weddle driving the victim's van at about 9 a.m. Sunday morning, near the river where the victim was found.
Police say a motive for the murder remains unclear at this time. The investigation is continuing.