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Palm Coast Tuesday, May. 9, 2017 6 months ago

Wife arrested in murder of Charles William Singer

Dorothy Singer is charged with first-degree murder. Her husband had previously been reported missing. He was found dead on the couple's property April 7.
by: Jonathan Simmons News Editor

Several weeks after detectives found the body of Charles William "Chuck" Singer buried underneath an overturned jon boat and a pile of moth balls and brush in his backyard in western Flagler County, deputies on May 9 arrested Singer's wife, 52-year-old Dorothy Singer.

The arrest occurred on State Road A1A just north of the Flagler County line as Dorothy Singer attempted to flee the area, Sheriff Rick Staly told reporters at a news conference May 9. The Sheriff's Office had gotten word that she was preparing to fake her death and leave the state.

"This case and the investigative techniques used to solve this case is like a Dateline episode," Staly said. "Our investigation is continuing to determine if there were other accomplices in the murder. ... There was a lot of attempts by our suspect to cover up this crime, and we have lots and lots of evidence."

Charles Singer, 48, had previously been reported missing. (Photo courtesy of the Flagler County Sheriff's Office.)

The Sheriff's Office is also recommending that law enforcement officers in Putnam County take a second look into the death of one of Dorothy Singer's two previous husbands, who died suddenly at age 38, Staly said. 

Charles Singer, 48, had been reported missing by his sister, Elizabeth Ellis, on March 23. Ellis was suspicious: she typically spoke with her brother by phone regularly, but hadn't been able to speak with him for months, she told investigators, and his wife had been giving her stories that didn't add up. Her brother was disabled, and did not have a driver's license.

Meanwhile, Dorothy Singer had called her husband's supervisor at Flagler County Roofing after he didn't show up for work Feb. 8. She told the supervisor that Charles Singer had "put his hands on her," that she'd given him an ultimatum to move out or go to jail, and that he'd decided to move to his sister's house and would not be returning to work. 

That story got back to Ellis from one of her brother's co-workers. Then her brother didn't respond to invitations to her gender reveal party, and when she pressed him, the return texts from his phone seemed odd. One of them said that he would to be able to attend because he'd made a mistake and was in Kentucky trying to work things out. 

But because Singer was blind, Ellis told deputies, he only texted using the talk-to-text function on his phone, so his texts always contained no typos. But these recent texts did.

Detectives interviewed Dorothy Singer, who told them she'd kicked Charles Singer out of the couple's home at 80 Pine Tree Lane in Bunnell two months before, and that he'd taken his phone and all of his bank cards.

Detectives checked cell phone records. The information from the cell phone provider showed Charles Singer's phone using the tower that's used when calls are made from the couple's house. And every time his phone was used, it was right next to his wife's phone.

"It appears Dorothy was in possession of Charles' telephone and used it to create the appearance that he was alive and well," a deputy wrote in Dorothy Singer's arrest report.

Bank card records were also telling: There were multiple charges on Charles Singer's debit and credit cards and his EBT card at Dollar General, Ace Hardware, Walmart and other locations since his apparent disappearance. 

Surveillance video from the stores showed Dorothy Singer using her husband's cards. Ace Hardware showed detectives her receipt: bleach, moth balls, moth crystals, 409 carpet cleaner and a camouflage tarp. 

Dorothy Singer allowed deputies to walk through her property April 3. They found a suspicious area in the rear of the property: a jon boat flipped upside down and piled with wood pallets, moth balls and debris. The debris was "unnaturally piled," according to a deputy's report, and a camouflage tarp could be seen in the pile.

They came back with a search warrant April 7, and found Singer's body beneath the boat, on a comforter and wrapped in the tarp.

He'd been shot four times in the head and once in the chest with a small caliber weapon.

Forensic processing turned up suspected blood in the master bedroom on the headboard, carpet and curtains. None of it was visible to the naked eye.

Detectives interviewed Dorothy Singer and other people who were living in the home at the time the search wearrant was served.

Detectives aren't certain exactly when Charles Singer was killed. But Flagler County Roofing staff confirmed that he hadn't showed up for work at any point on or after Feb. 8, and Dorothy Singer missed work at AO Precision Manufacturing without calling ahead Feb. 9, and then called and said she'd also be out Feb. 10.

Dorothy Singer's sister gave deputies the presumed murder weapon, a five-shot, 22-caliber North American Arms handgun. The sister told deputies that Dorothy Singer had kept the gun for about a year before returning it to her a couple of months ago. 

A Florida Department of Law Enforcement report issued April 14 found that the bullet fragments found in Singer's body had been fired from that firearm.

Detectives were still investigating the case May 9 when Dorothy Singer bolted, Staly said. Staly speculated that comments he'd made that were quoted in a FlaglerLive story about the case published May 5 may have led her to believe that deputies were closing in. 

Dorothy Singer had been arrested once in the past on a larceny charge and had been married twice before, Staly said.

One of those husbands, Ward Everett Barnes, died suddenly at 38 in Putnam County and was cremated, Staly said. "We have reached out to Putnam County Sheriff’s Office and suggested that they relook at that case," he said. The fact that Barnes died young "certainly raises an eyebrow," Staly said. The Sheriff's Office is still trying to determine the status of the other prior husband.

Dorothy Singer is charged with first degree murder. She was transferred from the St. Johns County jail to the Flagler County jail the afternoon of May 9.






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