Augusta Sheriff Investigates Suspected Antifreeze Poisoning Deat - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Augusta Sheriff Investigates Suspected Antifreeze Poisoning Death

Posted: Updated: Apr 10, 2014 08:51 PM
Shelby Vatter Shelby Vatter
David Vatter David Vatter
The Augusta County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a possible homicide after a Verona woman died with a large amount of antifreeze in her system. Thursday, her husband talked to NBC29 about the case.

Shelby Vatter, 76, was admitted to the hospital three weeks ago after falling ill. Doctors at Augusta Health found high levels of antifreeze in her system. Vatter was unresponsive during her treatment and died Tuesday night.

The investigation is still in the early stages. Court records filed in Augusta County show that nobody yet knows how Shelby was poisoned.

"We have three options: there was a suicide, a homicide or accidental ingestion, there's a thorough investigation underway right now,” said Paul McCormick, an investigator with the Augusta County Sheriff’s Office. "Autopsy, we're waiting on toxicology, and a variety of other forensic evidence that has been submitted to the lab.”

During a search, investigators discovered multiple containers of antifreeze - one in the basement and two in the shed. The affidavit also says the container of antifreeze found in the basement was half empty and for an RV waterline. The Vatters do not own an RV. According to the search warrants, Shelby’s husband, David Vatter, said she accidentally bought the antifreeze a year earlier and stated he used it in his truck, despite it not being the correct antifreeze.

McCormick says so far, everyone has cooperated. "Everybody has expressed an interest in understanding how this came to be.”

David says he is broken up over his wife's mysterious death. David and Shelby Vatter were coming up on 20 years together after a brief courtship in the '90s. "Sparks flew, we fell in love, and we got married,” he said.

He says his wife had numerous health issues, but he has no clue what led to her passing.

"My wife was a very caring person. If somebody had a heart that wasn't right, she always tried to change their heart back the right way,” said David. "We all miss her, family and friends. The people that really knew us - they know how I felt about my wife."

No charges have been filed yet. A computer and other forensic evidence were seized from the Vatters' home on Kenwood Drive in Verona in hopes of finding clues as to how the antifreeze may have ended up in Shelby's system. Officials say it will probably take several months to get results from the toxicology tests and autopsy.
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