Local authorities on Thursday arrested a Florida man suspected in the September killing of his wife.
Christopher K. Belcher was apprehended at around 2 p.m. Thursday at his sister's residence in Greenville by Greenville County Sheriff's deputies, Greenville Police officers, and U.S. Marshals, according to the Hillsborough County (Fla.) Sheriff's Office.
Belcher, 43, of Seffner, Fla., a small community located 15 miles from Tampa, was being held in the Greenville County Detention Center Thursday night awaiting extradition back to Hillsborough County.
Master Deputy Laura Campbell, spokesperson for the Greenville County Sheriff's Office, referred details of Belcher's arrest to the U.S. Marshal's Office, which did not respond to calls late Thursday afternoon.
Belcher is a prime suspect in the homicide of his wife, 43-year-old Gwendolyn Belcher, whose charred remains were found in her burnt out car on Sept. 16, Hillsborough County authorities said.
Investigators said evidence at the scene indicated that the car had been deliberately set afire, though the exact cause of death was unknown. Authorities said a crime-scene investigation also turned up evidence of blood and blood splatter in the couple's home. Analyses of the samples determined the blood to be the victim's and that of a male, investigators said.
The victim was last seen alive the previous night when Belcher's daughter told authorities her father and stepmother got into a violent fight in which the girl said she saw her father allegedly beat the victim. The girl told authorities she was ordered to go to her room and said she heard her stepmother scream for Belcher to stop, heard loud banging noises, and what sounded like someone being strangled.
"She said there were times when Gwendolyn's voice was yelling, and times when her voice sounded muffled, as if she was gasping for breath," according to a Sheriff's Office affidavit. "She advised that once the yelling had stopped, her father came into her room and told her to go to bed. She said she never heard anyone leave the residence before she fell asleep. She advised that when she woke up the next morning (9/16/12) she did not see Gwendolyn at the residence."
The suspect told authorities that he had been drinking that night while at a birthday party with his daughter and did not remember getting into a violent argument or fight with his wife, but stated "he and his wife wrestled on the couch and on the floor," the affidavit said.
Belcher told authorities his wife was in the process of leaving their home when he returned from the party and didn't see her again after that. Belcher told authorities he fell asleep on the couch and didn't realize his wife was gone until he woke up the next morning.
A check of the Hillsborough County criminal records by Patch showed that Belcher has a number of alleged criminal violations, including arrests for at least two incidences of alleged criminal domestic violence and violation of a domestic-violence injunction that date as far back as 2003.