Woman, 76, who accused neighbors of holding husband hostage arrested in his death

FRESNO, Calif. -- A woman who accused her neighbors of holding her husband hostage last week is now under arrest for his murder.

Gloria Villa, 76, is being held on homicide charges with a special enhancement of using a knife. Police say she was living with her dead husband for weeks before he discovered.

"They came over here, asking if her husband was here and if I had seen her husband and I said,'No, I haven't seen him,'" neighbor William Mendes said. "I guess she started walking up and down the street. I guess she was asking so many different neighbors."

Many neighbors say Villa has dementia or a similar disorder that affects her brain and memory.

A neighbor recalls that she asked him why he didn't trim the trees that border their homes. They never discussed that before, but the awkward conversations didn't throw up any red flags until Fresno police showed up.

"The officers told me that she had told them that we were holding her husband hostage in one of the cars and that's all she said about it," the neighbor recounted.

Her husband, Bernie Villa, was found in his own home on the floor of the living room, and police believe he was dead for quite some time before they were called.

Legal analyst Tony Capozzi knew the Villas before Gloria's health declined.

"The sweetest couple in the world, got along very well," he said of their interactions. "But I guess, with later years, the onset of dementia, characters change, personalities change."

The petite, grey-haired 76-year-old is now accused of taking the life of the man she was with since high school.

Capozzi says if Gloria really does have a mental disorder, the case against her may be nothing more than a sad tragedy.

"For her to have committed this crime, one - she probably doesn't know that she did it. And two - to get a statement out of her probably wouldn't be very valid one way or the other," he explained. "So it's going to be a very difficult case for the district attorney."
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