After allegedly shooting and killing his wife in their Spring Grove home, retired Chicago police officer Lorin Volberding sat with her coat draped over his shoulders as he smoked a cigarette and joked with officers in a police interview room.
Prosecutors rested their case against the 74-year-old accused killer on Tuesday after playing a more than hourlong video-recorded interview between Volberding and two McHenry County Major Investigation Assistance Team officers.
During the interview, Volberding joked and spoke about his wife, Elizabeth Volberding, in present tense. His demeanor changed, however, when he learned his wife didn’t survive the shooting.
“She was the best friend I ever had,” he told police.
He also said he wished the situation never happened.
“Oh, Jesus,” Lorin Volberding said. “Why did she talk like that to me?”
Last year, psychologist Robert Meyer testified that although Lorin Volberding suffers from some memory loss and other health issues, he ultimately is capable of standing trial.
Lorin Volberding is charged in McHenry County Circuit Court with first-degree murder in connection with Elizabeth Volberding’s Feb. 3, 2017, shooting death. The mother and fellow retired Chicago police officer died of injuries suffered from a gunshot wound to her neck, forensic pathologist Mark Witeck said in court Tuesday.
The Volberdings began the day on “friendly” terms, Lorin Volberding told police. After waking, they kissed and both said “I love you.” It was Elizabeth’s 68th birthday, and the couple was celebrating with alcoholic drinks before playing their daily game of Scrabble, Lorin Volberding told police.
The ongoing process of trying to sell their Riviera Drive home sparked an argument before they could finish their game, Lorin Volberding said.
“She kept telling me to shoot her, so I did,” he said.
According to Lorin Volberding, his wife threw several knives at him during the fight. Eventually, Lorin Volberding said he “couldn’t take it anymore,” went to the bedroom, and retrieved a loaded revolver from the armoire.
Elizabeth Volberding was looking in the refrigerator when her husband fired a single gunshot that entered her neck, Lorin Volberding said.
“I went to the shelf, got it out, and – boom. One shot. She went down,” he told police.
Afterward, Lorin Volberding laid on the the kitchen floor by his wife for about 10 minutes, as the couple’s dog Scampy hovered nearby, he said. Lorin Volberding then used a cellphone to call his neighbor and say, “I think I just shot and killed Liz. I need help.” Scampy was unharmed and lives with a neighbor.
Illinois State Police forensic scientist Ellen Chapman found no gunshot residue on Lorin Volberding’s hands but did find traces on Elizabeth Volberding’s left hand. The presence of gun residue alone typically isn’t enough to indicate who fired a gun, Chapman said.
“Sometimes the gunshot residue follows the bullet,” Chapman said.
Defense attorney Henry Sugden asked the judge on Tuesday to find Lorin Volberding not guilty on the basis that prosecutors failed to prove their case. McHenry County Judge Michael Coppedge denied the request and the trial will resume at 10 a.m. Wednesday.