FORSYTH COUNTY, N.C. — Steven Byron Tisdale pleaded guilty in court Monday, admitting he murdered his husband and embezzled money from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.
Steven Tisdale, 45, a former Baptist employee, admitted he shot and killed Robert Tisdale, 52, on Jan. 30, 2013 while Robert was asleep in bed. The two were married in another state around 2006, according to testimony from an investigator Monday.
In court, investigators said Steven Tisdale claimed Robert had verbally abused him for years, and he felt he "had no other way out." They had an argument the night before the murder.
Investigators also determined Steven Tisdale attempted to put Robert's body into a large trash bin after he killed him. After struggling with disposing the body, he left it wrapped in bed linens partially in the trash can and proceeded to fill the room with candles and air fresheners. He also stuffed towels under the bedroom door so the odor would not escape to the rest of the house, an investigator described.
For about three weeks, Steven Tisdale lived in the home with the body upstairs, mostly sleeping on the couch, he told investigators. He also admitted to having at least two male prostitutes he found online come over to the home during that time.
Robert Tisdale’s body was found in their Pfafftown home the same day in February that Steven Tisdale was scheduled to be in Forsyth Superior Court to face charges that he embezzled more than $100,000 from his former employer, Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.
Steven Tisdale never showed up in court for the pre-arranged plea agreement with Baptist.
Meanwhile, Robert Tisdale's mother requested police perform a welfare check because she was concerned she had not heard from her son. Police went to the home but found no signs of a break-in. Later in the day, Robert's mother hired a locksmith to get into the home, where her son was found dead upstairs in his bedroom.
By using Steven's financial records, the Forsyth County Sheriff's Department tracked him to Las Vegas, where local police picked up Tisdale a day later.
Forsyth County investigators flew to Las Vegas and interrogated Tisdale. In court, an investigator said Steven Tisdale admitted to the murder and cooperated with authorities.
Monday, Tisdale agreed to plead guilty to the first-degree murder of Robert in exchange for the state not seeking the death penalty. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Tisdale was also sentenced to 73-100 months for the embezzlement charges, to be served concurrently with his life sentence. He agreed to pay $114,002 in restitution to the hospital.
Forsyth County District Attorney Jim O'Neill said his office agreed to the plea agreement offered by Tisdale's defense attorneys after speaking with the victim's family. They agreed that accepting a plea deal would be the best way to quickly resolve the case instead of dragging it through trial, O'Neill said.
The District Attorney's office had planned to seek the death penalty in the case.
In court, Steven Tisdale cried while speaking to the judge. He offered an apology to Robert 's family and his own, saying he was deeply sorry for the pain he caused. Steven Tisdale said he took responsibility for his actions, and his lawyers said Tisdale hoped being "put away" would give everyone closure.