Fitzpatrick III
Fitzpatrick III

After three hours of testimony, a district judge on Tuesday bound over to York County court a charge of a homicide against a Chanceford Township man accused of killing his wife nearly two years ago.

York County prosecutors argued Joseph Bernard Fitzpatrick III, 41, of 2288 Old Forge Road, killed his wife, Annemarie Fitzpatrick, on June 6, 2012, and made her death appear to be the result of an ATV crash.

A woman, Jessica George, whom Joseph Fitzpatrick was having an affair with, testified that he talked of leaving his wife.

Her testimony, and that of three other people, including two state police investigators, was enough for District Judge John H. Fishel to send the homicide charge to the York County Court of Common Pleas.

Annemarie Fitzpatrick
Annemarie Fitzpatrick (Courtesy of Evans Funeral Chapel and Cremation Services)

After the hearing, Joseph Fitzpatrick's defense attorney, Chris Ferro, said he wasn't surprised by the ruling because of a "low burden of proof" needed at the district judge level.

Dave Sunday, chief deputy prosecutor, said he's pleased with the outcome of the hearing and is seeking to "find justice for Annemarie."

What happened: Joseph Fitzpatrick told investigators the couple was belatedly celebrating their wedding anniversary about 8:30 p.m. June 6, 2012, when they got on an ATV to ride back to their home to gather items to start a fire in a firepit on their property, state police Cpl. George Cronin testified during the hearing.

Annemarie Fitzpatrick was driving, with Joseph Fitzpatrick behind her, when the ATV supposedly went backward off a bank and into the north branch of Muddy Creek, Cronin recounted.


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Joseph Fitzpatrick told police he initially couldn't find his wife but found her in the water on the other side of the creek and pulled her to shore, the corporal said.

Annemarie Fitzpatrick suffered injuries including multiple cuts and bruises on much of her body. She also suffered a fractured rib, York County Deputy Coroner Steve Cosey said during his testimony.

However, Cosey testified that some of the chest and back injuries could have been the result of CPR performed on her by responding medics.

Reconstruction: Investigators reconstructed the crash based on what Joseph Fitzpatrick told them, state police Cpl. Andrew Thierwechter testified, but found Joseph Fitzpatrick's story didn't add up.

"For one person to come out with no injuries and the other to sustain injuries is inconsistent," Thierwechter said.

He also said Annemarie Fitzpatrick's body should have been found closer to where the ATV went into the creek, not near the opposite shoreline.

"For her body to end up 30 to 40 feet away in little current doesn't fit either," Thierwechter testified.

Affair: In her testimony, George said she first met Joseph Fitzpatrick in April 2012 and saw him five times in about six weeks. They did, however, contact each other via phone and email daily, often numerous times each day, she said.

The two talked of pursuing a relationship after Joseph Fitzpatrick separated and divorced his wife, George said, adding he spoke of moving George and her children into the Fitzpatricks' home.

Annemarie Fitzpatrick found out about the extra-marital relationship and confronted her husband about it. On the night Annemarie Fitzpatrick died, Joseph Fitzpatrick told George he was going to talk to his wife about ending the marriage, George said.

Joseph Fitzpatrick described his marriage to investigators as "13 great years" but said were some "connectivity issues," Cronin said.

Messages left: Cronin also testified that Annemarie Fitzpatrick left messages to be found in the event of her death, including an email she sent to herself the day she died with the subject line, "if something happens to me," according to Joseph Fitzpatrick's charging documents.

The body of that email states: "Joe and I are having marital problems. Last night we almost had an accident where a huge log fell on me. Joe was on the pile with the log and had me untying a tarp directly below," documents state.

State police investigators also found a handwritten note by Annemarie Fitzpatrick at her workplace implicating her husband if something happened to her, Cronin said.

Despite the charge moving to county court, Ferro said there is little physical evidence against Joseph Fitzpatrick.

Ferro added the district attorney's office is presenting a "wholly circumstantial case" and is "creating pieces to find the conclusion" that Joseph Fitzpatrick killed his wife.

- Reach Greg Gross at ggross@yorkdispatch.com.