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Man with dementia dies days after strangling wife of 70 years to death with bath towel: Cops


Police in update New York say Robert Salyer killed his wife Jane Salyer in their upstate New York home on Aug. 29. Robert Salyer had dementia and used a bath towel to strangle his wife. He died on Sept. 1 at a local hospital. (Screenshot of Salyer home via WHEC)

An 89-year-old man with dementia died just days after he choked his wife of 70 years to death with a bath towel in upstate New York, according to authorities.

The Penn Yan Police Department was called to a home around 2:30 p.m. Aug. 29 after a home health aide found 89-year-old Jane Salyer dead on the bathroom floor of her home with a bath towel around her neck, according to a press release. Her husband, Ronald Salyer, is believed to have killed his wife and had bruises on his hands consistent with him pulling something, Chief Thomas Dunham told Rochester NBC affiliate WHEC.

Ronald Salyer was also found on the bathroom floor alive but in poor health, police said. The couple was on the bathroom floor for at least two days, the chief told the TV station.

He was taken to the hospital where he was placed into palliative care and died on Sept. 1.

Police say Ronald Salyer’s dementia played a role in him killing his wife, however, he never regained consciousness after he was found, so detectives were unable to interview him. His wife was in good health before her death. There was never any previous domestic violence calls or criminal history, cops said.

“Police are continuing to investigate the matter but have no other persons of interest at this time. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Salyer family in this trying time,” the press release said.

Jessica Paquette, who is a neighbor and Jane Salyer’s hairstylist, said she was with the home health aide when the Salyers were found. Jane Salyer had missed a hair appointment so she and the aide tried to enter the front door. When that didn’t work, they went to the back door, which was open.

What they saw next stunned the community about 50 miles northwest of Ithaca.

“Very shocked. And I just wanted to get out of there because I knew she was gone,” Paquette said. “There was a lot of chaos in the house. Chairs flipped over, blankets on the floor. The house was in a little bit of disarray, so I knew that it wasn’t right.”

Jane and Ronald Salyer got married on Dec. 23, 1952, in Burdett, New York, her obituary said. She was a bookkeeper at Agway Home Center for 20 years, was an avid quilter and enjoyed sewing and embroidery.

She also was a member of the Bluff Point United Methodist Church.

“That’s not the way she should’ve died. She was a lovely lady, and I know that they had many beautiful years together. And if he was in his right mind, he would not have done that,” Paquette told WHEC.

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