CLEVELAND – A missing doctor was indicted Tuesday in his wife's murder, nearly a year after she was poisoned with cyanide and collapsed behind the wheel of her car, the prosecutor's office said.
Dr. Yazeed Essa disappeared three weeks after Rosemarie Essa's Feb. 24 death and has been declared a fugitive. Authorities have information that he's been in Greece, Syria and Lebanon and possibly visited Miami during the holidays, according to the office of Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason.
His family is from the Palestinian territory and they own property there, authorities said.
Essa, 37, was indicted on one count of aggravated murder with prior calculation and design. He could serve 20 years to life in prison if convicted.
Assistant prosecutor Rick Bell said Essa was having an affair and wanted to get rid of his wife without losing his wealth through a divorce.
Essa's lawyer, Larry Zukerman, said he has had no contact with his client since his disappearance and that he is presumed innocent under the law.
Rosemarie Essa, 38, a former nurse, took a capsule containing a high level of cyanide, believing it was a calcium pill, according to the coroner. Afterward, she crashed her Volvo into an oncoming car and was found slumped over inside.
Before she died, Essa used her cell phone to call her friend, Eva McGregor. Gasping for air, she told McGregor that her husband made her take pills and she didn't feel well, Bell said.
"It's her statement right before she dies that's the key evidence," he said.
Her brother, Dominic DiPuccio, took custody of his sister's two children and put a freeze on the family's assets after Yazeed Essa disappeared.