A Florida nurse’s estranged husband has been accused of lying in wait for her outside the medical facility where she worked, stabbing her repeatedly and then running over her body in the parking lot after her shift.
Philip Mathew is now facing charges of first-degree murder in the brutal slaying of his estranged wife, Merin Joy, after she was able to tell police in a dying declaration that her husband had attacked her, according to an arrest warrant obtained by Oxygen.com.
Coral Springs Police responded to the scene around 7:38 a.m. Tuesday morning after receiving a 911 call about a possible stabbing and hit-and-run.
One witness told police she had been leaving the hospital when she heard Joy screaming “Help me, help me,” and saw Mathew attacking the 26-year-old, according to the warrant.
Another witness told police he had been standing by a hospital door when he heard a woman scream for help and saw Mathew “repeatedly stabbing” Joy with a knife. The man ran to try to intervene, but Mathew “swung the knife at him” and then took off in his vehicle, the warrant said.
The man was able to take a photograph of the vehicle—including capturing the Hyundai Sonata’s Michigan license plate—before the suspect fled the scene.
Joy told a police officer riding with her in the ambulance that her husband, Philip Mathew, had been the person who had attacked her. The woman’s dying declaration was captured on the officer’s body camera, according to the report.
Surveillance footage of the incident allegedly showed Mathew arriving at the hospital at around 6:45 a.m. After Joy left her shift, Mathew drove up behind the vehicle and blocked her in before jumping out of his own car and pulling her from her vehicle.
“Mathew then began to repeatedly strike the victim on or about her body,” police said in the warrant.
Authorities said Mathew ran over his wife’s body as he was leaving the scene.
“He stabbed her multiple times and then after he stabbed her, leaving her body on the ground, he then proceeded to run over the victim showing clear intent,” Assistant State Attorney Eric Linder said in court Wednesday, according to local station WPLG.
Police later found Mathew at a Studio 6 hotel in Coral Springs. He had cuts to both arms in what authorities believe may have been a suicide attempt.
Linder argued that the first-degree murder charges were applicable in the case because there had been clear signs of premeditation.
“Your honor, he drove to her location of her place of work and laid in wait for her to leave,” he said. “This was not a random encounter.”
Mathew’s attorney Walter Miller, an assistant public defender, argued however that it had not been a calculated act.
“A depraved heart or a crime of passion is not premeditation, and therefore this is second degree, not first degree,” he said, requesting a mental health evaluation for his client.
The judge ordered Mathew be held without bond.
The alleged fatal confrontation between the estranged husband and wife was not the only violent incident between the pair.
In 2018, police officers were called to the couple’s home after Mathew allegedly had made threats to kill his wife and himself, according to the arrest warrant. Mathew was taken into custody under the Baker Act, a law in the state that allows police to detain a person deemed to be a threat to themselves or others for mental health evaluation.
When the couple traveled to India together in December, Joy left her 2-year-old daughter in her mother’s care in India to keep her safe, according to the South Florida Sun Sentinel.
After she returned to the United States, the couple split up.
Joice John Madasseril, a former classmate and close friend of Mathew from India, told the local outlet that Mathew had been distraught after his wife left him.
“He loved his family. He loves his daughter that much,” he said. “He liked to live with his wife and daughter.”
Madasseril said Mathew called him from a hotel room Monday around midnight to say that Joy had told him she would never allow him to see his daughter.
Madasseril said the conversation had hurt “Philip’s heart.”
Shortly before Joy was killed, she had called the Coral Springs Police on July 19 to say that she was going through “a very difficult divorce” and that Mathew had wanted her to reconcile and had been posting messages online, the report said.
Those who knew the couple also told authorities Joy had been afraid for her safety before the fatal altercation.
On the day she was killed, Joy had just worked her last shift at Broward Health North and had been planning to move to Tampa, where she had family.
But the young nurse would never have the chance.
After her death, Jared Smith, the CEO Of Broward Health Coral Springs, issued a statement saying they were “heartbroken” over the sudden loss of one of their employees, according to the paper.
“She was part of our family, and there are no words to describe our emotions,” Smith said. “We offer our most sincere condolences to her family.”
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