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Munster Police Use Robot To Investigate Deadly Domestic Dispute

MUNSTER (CBS) -- Police in Northwest Indiana are questioning a man suspected of beating his estranged wife to death, then holding police at bay outside the home.

It happened in the 800 block of Boxwood in Munster. Munster Police responded to a domestic call early New Year's Day and soon found out they needed more help.

"They found a person in the street with a head injury and they were trying to ascertain what the situation was but he was kind of incoherent," said Munster Police Sergeant Steven Kovacic.

That person told police his girlfriend, 33-year-old Erica Veldinia, was inside and had been beaten up by her estranged husband who likely had a gun.

"They attempted several times to make contact with the individual and were unable to do so," said Kovacic.

That's when police called on their newest piece of technology, a robot.

Police use a remote control with two cameras allowing law enforcement to see what's happening inside a home in real time.

"They sent the robot in and they announced that it was the Munster Police Department. They got the suspect to reply back to them at which point they gave him orders to come out of the house and the situation was resolved peacefully," said Kovacic.

Once inside, police found Veldinia beaten with serious head injuries.

She later died at the hospital.

Her estranged husband was arrested a short time later.

Police say the robot puts officers' safety first.

"It's more practical for us to send in a $15,000 robot then it is to send in two or three officers," said Kovacic.

Margarito Valdivia, 44, of Chicago, is charged with murder, battery with a deadly weapon.

Margarito Valdivia was charged with murder and battery with a deadly weapon.

Meantime, this is the first time Munster Police have used the robot.

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