In the late evening of Sunday April 5, 2015, one-hundred year old Michael Juskin of Elmwood Park, New Jersey murdered his 88-year-old wife, Rosalia, with an axe as she slept in her bed on the first floor of their home at 58 Spruce Street. Afterwards, Mr. Juskin killed himself by slitting his wrists with a knife in the first floor bathroom. The bodies of the couple were discovered the following day around 9:00 AM by one of their sons who had come to the house to check on his parents. Michael and Rosalia had three children together (two sons, one daughter) and were long time residents at 58 Spruce Street. When they moved to their neighborhood, their home was one of only a few in Elmwood Park, then called “East Paterson”. Neighbors described the two as “a nice couple” and despite the fact the Juskins mostly kept to themselves and Michael was, “not the type to converse” their neighbors would see them outside tending to their yard together often. Police say, however, the couple had a history of domestic violence and that Rosalia had called 911 on three occasions over the past three years. In March 2012, police were called to the home when Michael Juskin was displaying “erratic, dementia-type behavior” and was taken to the hospital. A family member commented after the murder/suicide, “Sometimes he [Mr. Juskin] was lucid and sometimes he wasn’t.” Again, in the fall of 2013, Rosalia called 911 after an argument between she and her husband regarding the quality of her cooking, among other things which were undisclosed. According to Mrs. Juskin, the argument between she and her husband turned into “harassment” although no signs of abuse were observed by the police. In January 2015, Rosalia made the most unusual call of all from behind a locked door in the basement of their home. Michael Juskin reportedly ignored his wife’s pleas to be let out of the basement which eventually led her to call emergency services. When they arrived, still no signs of domestic abuse were observed and she insisted it was an accident. It is unclear how Mrs. Juskin came to be locked in the basement in the first place, though it is assumed Michael locked the door behind her. After the murder/suicide one of their sons, Nick Juskin, told investigators, “He [Michael Juskin] wasn’t himself. More times than not, he didn’t know where he was. He had Alzheimer’s. He couldn’t hear worth of shit.”, which may explain why he did not respond to his wife’s pleas to be let out of the basement. Emergency workers who responded to that call commented, “He’s 100 years old and she [Mrs. Juskin] chalked it up to that. She didn’t feel it was purposeful.” but it had been the third call to police in three years. Adult protective services were contacted about the incident but did not see the need to intervene in any way. Long-time neighbors of the couple claim Michael had wanted to divorce his wife for decades and approximately one month before the murder/suicide took place, Mr. Juskin made one last attempt at it. Twenty-four year old Alejandra Gonzales who lived across the street from the couple received a visit from Michael Juskin one day. He was insistent that he needed a ride to Paterson in order to meet with a lawyer about divorcing his wife. Gonzales explained, “He was very unhappy; he thought his wife was taking his pension money… He might have thought she was cheating on him.”. Alejandra’s fiancé complied and drove Mr. Juskin to the town of Paterson where a lawyer told him he was elderly and should just “let it go” and enjoy the rest of his life. Mr. Patterson, however, felt differently. Shortly thereafter, he showed up on Gonzales’s doorstep requesting a ride again; This time, he told the lawyer he was only 93. After the second incident, Alejandra contacted one of his sons, who informed her, “He does this all the time. Just don’t do it [drive him to the lawyer’s office] anymore.”. The couple lived part-time in Gulfport, Florida where their daughter is a full-time resident. The Juskins’ daughter urged her mother to come live with her in Florida, away from Michael, asserting, “We know he’s unstable.”, but Mrs. Juskin refused her daughter’s offer. Next door neighbor, 42-year-old Dorta Biskup told reporters, “He didn’t want medicine [for his dementia], he would sometimes drink vodka.” and that Michael could often be heard, “hollering through the door”. Although it is unconfirmed due to pending investigation, it is believed Michael Juskin is the oldest known murderer in the history of the United States, possibly the world. In 2013, only 0.6% of murders were committed by someone aged 75 or older.
This tragedy could have been prevented. If you are in an abusive relationship, even if it is “just” emotionally abusive, as Rosalia Juskin’s was, there are people who can help; Please get out immediately and seek refuge at your nearest Women’s Shelter.
National Domestic Abuse Hotline: 1-800-799-7233 (1-800-799-SAFE)
If you are living in another country and need assistance finding resources to escape an abusive relationship, please contact me and I will find resources in or near your own community immediately.
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