A Yeadon man, in the heat of a violent argument, murdered his father, bludgeoning and stabbing him before loading the battered corpse into his SUV and discarding it near a country club, police said Monday.
Robert Coult III, 30, was arrested late Sunday and charged with first- and third-degree murder, possessing an instrument of crime, abuse of a corpse, and related offenses, according to Delaware County District Attorney Katayoun M. Copeland.
Those charges carry a maximum sentence of life in prison and make Coult ineligible for bail, Copeland added. He remains in custody at the Delaware County prison, with a preliminary hearing scheduled for Sept. 25.
As he was led from the Yeadon police station Monday afternoon, Coult refused to answer questions from reporters, saying only that the news crews assembled were "vultures with cameras."
The victim, Robert Coult Jr., was found dead early Saturday when an employee of the Philadelphia Country Club discovered his body on the grassy shoulder of Spring Mill Road near the clubhouse in Gladwyne.
"This is the perfect example of how the cooperation of law enforcement agencies, with real-time evidence, can lead to results," Copeland said Monday in announcing the arrests.
Investigators in Montgomery and Delaware Counties collaborated to piece together the chaotic final hours of the elder Coult, 59, and the violence he allegedly faced at the hands of his son.
The two had gotten into an argument early Friday, apparently over a small sum of money, according to Copeland. That argument resumed hours later, when they returned to their home on Providence Road in Yeadon.
Yeadon Police Chief Anthony Paparo said that his officers had been called to that address in the past for domestic disputes, but that neither father nor son had any record of arrests. Both men were commercial painters, employed by different companies, according to police.
A law enforcement source said Coult III has a history of angry outbursts, and had been involuntarily committed to a psychiatric unit by his father during a previous incident.
In Friday's dispute, Coult alleged that his father pushed him down a flight of stairs. As the argument continued, the son grabbed a hammer from a nearby room and struck his father in the head, continuing to hit him after the older man had fallen to the floor, according to an affidavit of probable cause filed in the case.
Thinking his father was still alive, Coult went into the kitchen, retrieved a butcher knife, and stabbed his father in the head, the document says. He then tried to dispose of the body, attempting to use an electric saw to dismember the corpse, according to a confession he gave to police.
When that failed, Coult changed his father's bloodied clothing, loaded the body into the passenger seat of his Ford Explorer, and drove off. Paparo said investigators believe the SUV left the home around midnight and didn't return until 3 a.m., based on surveillance footage from the area.
In the interim, according to the affidavit, Coult drove 16 miles to the country club with his dead father buckled into the passenger seat. After disposing of his body near the golf course, he discarded towels and other items he had used to clean up the crime scene in a dumpster at a Burger King in Havertown. He ditched his own bloody clothing in a second dumpster at a nearby roofing business.
He stashed the alleged murder weapons in the home's basement, the document says. Everything he allegedly dumped was recovered by police, investigators said at Monday's news conference.
The next day, Coult allegedly acted as if nothing had happened, playing video games with the boyfriend of a woman living as a tenant in the house he had shared with his father, according to Paparo.
On Sunday, James Coult, the victim's brother, filed a missing person report after trying unsuccessfully to reach him, Paparo said. Around the same time, the victim's girlfriend, Karen Cordivari, contacted a friend who works as a state trooper, expressing concern after seeing news reports of a man found dead in Lower Merion.
The trooper forwarded a photo of the father to a detective in Montgomery County, who identified him as the man found dead Saturday.
When a detective from Yeadon police went to interview the son, he "got the impression that something was wrong with his story," Paparo said Monday. Coult's account of the previous few days was inconsistent, including his mention that his father's car was at a mechanic's shop being repaired when it was in fact parked behind the house.
Police brought Coult in for questioning, and he consented to a search of his Ford Explorer and home. Inside the house, investigators found evidence of spattered blood that recently had been cleaned. When confronted with this evidence, Coult confessed to killing his father, Paparo said.