PHILADELPHIA - A sobbing man asked his 16-year-old daughter's forgiveness in court Tuesday as he admitted strangling his wife in a park as they fought over his texts to another woman.
Christopher Murray had followed his wife, Connie, after she left for a walk one night last summer, and he killed her near their northeast Philadelphia home. Police initially feared the 46-year-old woman, dressed in running clothes, had been killed by a sexual predator casing the park.
Murray pretended that his wife was merely missing when he returned home. He had their teen daughter join him as he searched the neighborhood and two hospitals. He called police the next morning.
A dog walker found Connie Murray's body. Police thought the victim had been sexually assaulted because her shirt was pulled up.
"How do you leave your wife and the mother of your children in a park, scantily clad? And then, to make matters worse, involve your child to go look for her mother? (She) must have been frantic," Assistant District Attorney Joanne Pescatore said.
Murray, a 49-year-old Navy veteran and machinist, turned to his teen daughter and his wife's large extended family and apologized. He described his "beautiful wife, Connie" as his "first and only true love." They married in 1996.
"I wish that I could turn back time, but I cannot," Murray said.
In a statement to police, Murray said he and his wife had been arguing since March because she thought he was emotionally attached to a woman he had been texting. He said they argued in the park until he snapped.
"I guess I just got tired of the same (expletive) over and over," he told police.
He pleaded guilty to third-degree murder and will serve 20 to 40 years in prison.
"They had two daughters, who are now, for lack of a better word, orphans. Mr. Murray's brother - I give him the utmost credit - is caring for those two girls," Pescatore said.
Connie Murray had been born with one arm but never dwelled on the disability as she earned a college degree and became a teacher, friends said. She was a tireless volunteer at her daughters' activities and "the life of the party" at family gatherings, her youngest brother, Kevin McClain, told Common Pleas Judge Benjamin Lerner. The Murrays' younger daughter is now 12 and wasn't in court Tuesday.
"Mom will not be there to share in their achievements, give motherly advice, and support them on their journeys through life," McClain said. "(Their) proms, graduations and weddings will be bittersweet."