Bernadette Rosita Tyndale died because her husband decided that if he couldn't have her, nobody could, an assistant state's attorney contended yesterday at the beginning of the husband's murder trial.
When Ernest A. Tyndale reported his wife missing on the afternoon of June 15, 1994, he told police that she had gone out for beer the night before and never returned.
A short time after the missing-persons report was filed, police identified the body of a woman found strangled in Leakin Park as that of Mrs. Tyndale.
She was a 30-year-old mother of four who had worked at the Social Security Administration for 11 years. And she had been looking for a way out of an unhappy life with an obsessive husband, prosecutor Sharon R. Holback told a Baltimore Circuit Court jury during opening statements.
If Mrs. Tyndale had gone out for beer, she apparently had done so without money, a police detective testified yesterday. Her purse was on the dining room table. And she didn't take a car, when the closest liquor store was about two miles away.
Instead, Ms. Holback said, Mr. Tyndale, 33, killed his wife because she had made plans to co-sign on a friend's car loan in exchange for $1,000 cash -- money that would have allowed her to move out of the couple's Northwest Baltimore home and in with her boyfriend.
"Ernest Tyndale couldn't accept 'No,' and that's why Bernadette Tyndale is dead," Ms. Holback said. "She couldn't get away from him, and he wasn't going to let her go and live."
Furthermore, Mr. Tyndale -- who had been fired from his job as a housing inspector -- stood to profit from his wife's death, Ms. Holback said. With a rider covering his spouse on his life insurance and benefits from her job at Social Security, Mr. Tyndale had figured on receiving $200,000 to $300,000.
"All he had to do was get away with murder," she said.
But defense attorney Thanos Kanellakis told the jury the two motives offered by the prosecution didn't make sense together. "There is a tension in this case -- whether this was a heat of passion case, or whether this was actually a big plan," he said.
Mr. Kanellakis said his client had assisted police willingly and that the prosecution's case had too many gaps for Mr. Tyndale to be found guilty. And he cautioned jurors not to allow their emotions about the death of a young mother, or their feelings about her marital problems, to cloud their judgment of the facts.
Ms. Holback said Mrs. Tyndale's rocky relationship with her husband led her to separate from him in 1993 and to begin seeing another man, Gary Kent Neverdon Sr.
But Mr. Tyndale began to follow his wife's every move, interfering with the new relationship, the prosecutor said. He would call Mrs. Tyndale at work -- morning and afternoon. When she stopped answering her phone, Mr. Tyndale would call her co-workers.
Eventually, Mrs. Tyndale moved back to the home she shared with her husband in the 4200 block of Ridgewood Ave. She was working overtime to make ends meet when her husband lost his job, Ms. Holback said.
When she saw a chance to make some cash by co-signing on the loan, Mrs. Tyndale thought she could finally get out of the relationship, the prosecutor said. But the car dealership called Mr. Tyndale during its credit check and he became aware of the loan.