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Crime News Breaking News

Pittsburgh Man Says ‘Demons Took Over’ After Allegedly Murdering, Nearly Decapitating Roommate

Joseph Martin arrested after authorities found 71-year-old roommate Ricardo Tobia's head nearly severed. The victim's dog had been killed as well. 

By Stefan Lembo-Stolba

A Pittsburgh man stabbed his elderly roommate to death and nearly severed his head, police say.

Joseph Martin, 35, was charged with criminal homicide for his alleged role in the gruesome death of his roommate, Ricardo Tobia, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Tobia, an instructor of the nearby Point Park University, was found dead in his bedroom with multiple stab wounds and his head nearly severed from the rest of his body, the Tribune-Review reported.

A later autopsy also found that the 71-year-old roommate had been shot in the head and sliced across the stomach. Authorities also found that Tobia’s dog had been cut across the neck and shot in the head.

When they searched the home, investigators found a blood-covered sword and knife, according to the Tribune-Review. The walls and ceilings of the home were reported to be covered in blood splatter and smears.

Martin was involuntarily committed to a nearby psychiatric ward on July 5 by his mother, Margaret Martin, after she said he was behaving in a “catatonic, non-lucid, unresponsive manner,” police said. According to investigators, when Martin’s mother spoke with him the next daym he told her “demons took over and he thinks he hurt Rick,” the Tribune-Review reported.

This was not the first time that Martin had been confined to a psychiatric institution. In 2016, Martin committed himself to a nearby hospital after police found swords and knives in his vehicle.

Martin was committed to the Western Psychiatric Institute in Pittsburgh in 2006 when his roommate, Tobia, told police that Martin had chased him around the house with a sword and made “irrational statements.”

Martin’s mother later told police after his arrest that she found a gun and box of bullets in her son’s car, according to KDKA in Pittsburgh. When police retrieved the gun from the mother’s home, they also found a pair of bloodied shoes in the basement with a tread pattern consistent with the one found at the crime scene.

Tobia was an active member of his community and was beloved by the people he worked with and fellow members of his church, the Fairview United Methodist Church, KDKA reported.

“He was here every Sunday…very involved in any kind of events we had and certainly every year,” Rich Cummings, a member of Tobia’s church told KDKA. “He would bring in the Point Park singers, and they perform here. It was usually standing room only.”

[Photo: Pittsburgh Police]

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