State Superior Court Judge Joseph Oxley sentences for Neptune police sergeant Philip Seidle to a 30 year prison term for the manslaughter of his former wife Tamara Wilson-Seidle THOMAS P. COSTELLO
FREEHOLD, N.J. — “He’s here, he’s coming to kill me, call 911,” Tamara Wilson-Seidle told her oldest daughter in one of her last phone calls on June 16, 2015.
“Take this, b****,” her ex-husband, former Neptune police Sgt. Philip Seidle said, as he took aim and fired 12 shots at her.
“Dad shot Mom and almost got me into a car accident,” the couple’s youngest daughter, 7-year-old Teresa Seidle, wrote in her diary that day.
Marc LeMieux, first assistant Monmouth County prosecutor, relayed those statements Thursday to Superior Court Judge Joseph W. Oxley before the judge sentenced Seidle to 30 years in prison for killing his ex-wife.
Seidle called his ex-wife incessantly that morning, wanting to know if her new boyfriend was in her house, LeMieux said.
“She hung up on him,” the assistant prosecutor said. “He called her back and he told her he was going to kill her.”
Then, with his 7-year-old in the car, he hunted his ex-wife “like an animal in broad daylight and he killed her in front of her daughter,” LeMieux said.
Seidle chased his ex-wife through the streets of Asbury Park and, shortly before noon at Sewell and Ridge avenues, he rammed into her car, wedging it into a parked car, LeMieux said.
Wilson-Seidle, 51, tried to get out of her car. Her ex-husband stopped her, LeMieux said.
“He pushed her back in and fired seven rounds in rapid succession while saying, ‘I told you so,'” LeMieux said.
He went around to the front of his ex-wife’s car and fired some more shots, “to make sure she was dead,” he said.
Then, he sent a text message to his children blaming their mother’s death on her actions, LeMieux said.
Seidle, now 52, and his attorney said he wasn’t behaving like himself that day; that he was distraught over visitation arrangements with his children.
“Everyone there who knew me knew that wasn’t me that day,” Seidle told the judge. “There’s no way I would have taken my daughter with me to see that, that day.”
Those were the actions of “someone who’s mentally ill, who snapped,” said defense attorney Edward C. Bertucio.
“It’s clear that his mental condition went from sanity to insanity,” Bertucio said.
The killing occurred just weeks after the couple’s divorce was finalized, after almost 25 years of marriage.
The judge said he understood from reading letters sent to him that Seidle was distraught over visitation arrangements with his children. But he noted that most of the couple’s children, by then, wanted nothing to do with their father.
“To blame the victim in any way in this case would be a gross miscarriage of justice,” the judge said.
The Seidle children, some addressing the judge in court and others who made statements to investigators, described a childhood growing up in a home rife with domestic violence, manipulation and infidelity.
Bertucio said Wilson-Seidle never filed any domestic violence complaints against her husband during their marriage. LeMieux said that was because she was reliant on him to support their large family.
Kirsten Seidle, 25, the couple’s oldest child, described the atmosphere in their Neptune home.
“I heard screaming and hitting behind closed doors, yet all nine of us felt so helpless,” she said
She told of an incident in which she heard her mother calling out to her for help, but then she heard her father yell, “If you come down here, both of you are dead.”
LeMieux said the Seidle children regularly witnessed their father beating their mother and pushing her into the walls.
“We’d wake up and see holes in the walls,” Philip Seidle Jr., 23, told investigators, according to LeMieux. “We would have to hang pictures over the holes to hide them.”
Christopher Seidle, 20, told investigators that on his 11th birthday, his mother had a black eye, LeMieux said. His father grabbed his mother by the wrist and told him, “Sit down, boy, you’re next,” LeMieux said.
The children reported that while their mother was battling breast cancer in 2010, their father was carrying on an affair with another woman, LeMieux said.
Seidle hung his head while his namesake broke down addressing the judge.
Philip Seidle Jr. said it was painful to lose his mother at the hands of someone he had once looked up to.
“I’m embarrassed to share his name,” the son said. “Whenever I hear it, it is like stabbing knives into my back.”
He and Kirsten Seidle asked the judge to impose a 30-year prison term, the maximum for aggravated manslaughter, which their father pleaded guilty to in March.
“There is no excuse for killing my mother,” Philip Seidle Jr. said. “No anger can excuse what he’s done.”
Kirsten Seidle said, “The day my father killed our mother in cold blood, we lost everything.”
When it was his turn to address the judge, the defendant at first apologized to the law enforcement officers who responded to the shooting. Then he apologized to his children, five of whom — including Kirsten and Philip Jr. — were seated in the front row of the courtroom. One of his daughters wept during the proceeding.
“I want to say, ‘I’m sorry,’ to my children — that’s the biggest thing, my kids,” Seidle said.
“Every day, since June 16, 2015, I’ve prayed for you all,” he said. “Every night, I pray to send an angel down to you all.”
He said he also prays for the ex-wife whom he killed.
“I pray for her every day, without fail,” he said.
Seidle must serve 25 1/2 years before he can be considered for release on parole, under the state’s No Early Release Act. Oxley gave Seidle credit for 471 days he has already served in jail.
At the time of her death, Wilson-Seidle’s nine children then ranged in age from 7 through 24. She was a soccer coach, devout Catholic, religious instructor at Mother of Mercy Parish in Asbury Park and a five-year breast cancer survivor.
Seidle appeared in court before Oxley on March 10 and admitted firing 12 shots at his ex-wife on the same day he had planned to take his youngest daughter to the Monmouth Mall to buy her a dress for a father-daughter dance.
Tamara Wilson-Seidle’s children say a final goodbye to the mother during funeral services held in Asbury Park. STAFF VIDEO BY THOMAS P. COSTELLO
Seidle pleaded guilty to aggravated manslaughter in a plea deal that spared him from life in prison without the possibility of parole. He also pleaded guilty to child endangerment for exposing his youngest daughter to the deadly encounter.
Oxley on Thursday sentenced Seidle to a concurrent, five-year prison term for the child endangerment.
Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni said at the time of the guilty plea that he was confident his office could have secured a conviction against Seidle for murder, but he wanted to spare several of the couple’s children from the ordeal of having to testify against their father at a trial.
After the sentencing, Gramiccioni called Seidle’s actions, “pure, unadulterated evil.”
After Seidle had killed his ex-wife, he said he sent a text message to his children that said, “Your mother is dead because of her actions,’’ Seidle admitted in court in March.
Seidle held police at bay for 20 minutes before he surrendered.
The way police handled the incident was the subject of an investigation by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office that concluded in June when Gramiccioni announced that there was nothing law enforcement could have done to prevent Wilson-Seidle’s death.
Gramiccioni reported then that the police who responded to the incident were restricted by the state attorney general’s guidelines from shooting a person who was threatening suicide. Plus, there was a risk of civilians being struck by gunfire if police had shot at Seidle, Gramiccioni said.
The tragedy brought to light a long history of domestic violence in the Seidles’ Neptune household. Neptune police had documented 21 calls to the family’s home over two decades, some for reports of domestic violence.
Wilson-Seidle claimed in divorce papers that she was threatened and abused by her husband numerous times during their marriage. The abuse alleged in the divorce papers included an incident in which Seidle was said to have held a cocked gun to his wife’s head, and another time when he reportedly kicked her in the stomach while she was pregnant.
Because Wilson-Seidle never signed domestic violence complaints against her husband when police were called to their home, the marital disharmony never triggered a mandatory investigation and disarming of Seidle under attorney general guidelines, the prosecutor said. However, Neptune police went above what was required under the guidelines when, in 2012, they suspended and disarmed the sergeant because a doctor declared him unfit for duty after he tried to cancel a call for help that his wife had made to police. Eleven months later, Seidle returned to duty, and his weapon was returned to him, after he received medical clearance.
Seidle was suspended from duty a second time in 2013, for six months, but he was not disarmed then.
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