Bobby and Crista Nitz had been married for seven months on Sunday, and a domestic incident at their home on Short Street “came out of the blue,” according to Middletown police.
Middletown police had never been called to the couple’s home until Sunday night, when there was a reported fatal shooting. Bobby Nitz, 45, who was charged with murder after his wife was found dead in a bathroom, had no criminal history, said Lt. Scott Reeve.
“Never heard of him,” Reeve said during a news conference Monday afternoon.
Crista Nitz, 41, died of a gunshot wound and her death was ruled a homicide after an autopsy performed Monday, according to the Butler County Coroner’s Office. Police said she was shot in the head and was found unresponsive on the bathroom floor by her 11-year-old daughter.
After the alleged shooting, Nitz fled on his motorcycle and was located by officers in Meigs County, Ohio, about 160 miles, or three hours, from Middletown. There was a chase and Nitz was taken into custody, police said.
After the alleged shooting, Nitz texted a friend and told him he had killed his wife and wouldn’t be “taken alive even if he had to kill a cop.”
Nitz waived extradition and will be transferred to the Middletown City Jail, police said.
On Monday afternoon, Short Street, which is located near Wildwood Elementary School, was quiet as the American flag on the Nitz house blew in the wind. Police tape was wrapped around the house and the vehicles in the driveway.
Neighbors said they were “shocked” by what happened there Sunday night, but noticed recently that the couple had been arguing more often. The couple’s argument Sunday began in the backyard then moved inside, according to Middletown Municipal Court records.
The couple married on Sept. 30, 2016, in Meigs County, according to Butler County court records.
Vernon Lynch, who lives next to the couple, said he noticed they had “little spats.” One day, after seeing Crista Nitz upset on the front porch, he told his wife, Dee: “’Well, the honeymoon is over.’”
They said they never saw any physical confrontations between the couple, so they never called Middletown police.
Vernon Lynch, who has arthritis, said he was relaxing in his hot tub Sunday night when he heard Nitz leaving at a high rate of speed on his motorcycle.
“We knew something was wrong,” Dee Lynch said. “He never does that.”
Ten to 15 minutes later, several Middletown police officers arrived. Vernon Lynch said he never heard any gun shots, though he was outside at the time of the alleged shooting.
“Both very nice people,” he said. “We can’t imagine what really happened, but it’s very scary that it happened next door to us. It really shocked us that it happened.”
The Lynches said the couple took the 11-year-old girl, Crista’s daughter, to West Virginia every weekend to visit her biological father. They left on Friday night and returned Sunday afternoon, the neighbors said. Then the couple went on a motorcycle ride, leaving the 11-year-old at home.
A call placed to Middletown police dispatchers Sunday night indicated the girl was on video chat with her father in West Virginia, telling him her mother may be dead on the bathroom floor.
In 911 calls obtained by this news outlet, dispatchers from Marion County, W. Va., called Middletown about 9:10 p.m. stating the father of the girl was on the phone with her and the girl said her mother had been “hit.”
“The little girl is crying that there is blood everywhere,” the West Virginia dispatcher told Middletown dispatchers as they sent officers to the home.
The girl is in the care of her biological father, police said.