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Mentally Ill Man Sentenced for "Zelda Sword" Killing of Father

June 29, 2016


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Marc Furber, 215.348.6339, mjfurber@buckscounty.org

A mentally ill man who fatally stabbed his father with a sword was sentenced this morning to serve 17 ½ to 45 years in state prison.

Eli Michael Goodrich, 26, who suffers from schizophrenia, pleaded guilty but mentally ill in Bucks County Common Pleas Court to third-degree murder and possession of an instrument of crime in the Aug. 4, 2015, death of Alan Goodrich, 67.

Judge C. Theodore Fritsch Jr. accepted a negotiated plea agreement in which attorneys recommended a sentence of 15 to 40 years for the murder and a consecutive two and one-half to five years for possession of an instrument of crime.

Alan Goodrich bled to death after his son thrust a sword through his abdomen while the elder Goodrich was sitting in a chair in the TV room of his Middletown Township home. The weapon, a “Legend of Zelda” sword patterned after a popular video game, was coated in blood the entire length of its blade.

Eli Goodrich, who alternately regarded his father as his “best friend” and “the devil,” claimed he succumbed to voices in his head instructing him to commit the murder. Among other delusions, he had accused his father of raping his mother, his fiancée and his dog.

Goodrich’s lawyers were preparing to present an insanity defense had the case gone to trial. A psychologist and a psychiatrist for the defense had concluded that Goodrich was legally insane at the time of the killing.

Deputy District Attorney Marc Furber, however, said he was prepared to prove that Goodrich did know that his conduct was wrong at the time of the crime, and thus did not meet the legal criteria for insanity.

“I’d just like to say that I loved my father. He was great to me,” Goodrich, who cried during much of the hearing, told Judge Fritsch. “I never would have done this if I had been in the right state of mind.”

In accepting the negotiated plea, Fritsch called it a “very difficult case. It’s a case involving mental illness (and) the tragic death of a well-loved father.”

To Goodrich, the judge added: “It’s clear to me that you have great remorse for what you have done.” He said he would recommend that Goodrich be sent to the State Correctional Institution at Waymart, which specializes in handling prisoners with severe mental illnesses.

Middletown police had been summoned to the Goodrich home shortly before 5 p.m. Officers found the victim sitting upright and dead in his chair, his shirt soaked with blood. With him were his disabled wife, June Goodrich, and his son, who surrendered immediately. The sword lay on the floor beside a nearby sofa.

An autopsy determined that the sword had severed an artery, causing death within two to four minutes of the attack.

After being handcuffed, Goodrich told police that he was a regular marijuana smoker who had just quit cold turkey, and that he had been up the entire night before drinking coffee. He said that he had smashed his cell phone because he suspected people were spying on him through it, that billboard signs and Netflix shows were about him, and that he took showers in the dark so that he could better hear the voices that spoke to him.

Goodrich, an English and communications graduate of St. Joseph’s University, lived in Philadelphia with his fiancée and planned to be married at the end of August 2015.

His mother told police that her son had come home earlier in the day, retrieved the sword from upstairs and brandished it at his father. Eli Goodrich told his father that he was not going to let him control his mind anymore, saying, “I have to kill you” before leaving with the sword and his dog.

He returned at 4 p.m., spoke briefly with his father, and then asked his mother if Alan Goodrich had ever raped her. She told him no.

Eli Goodrich then returned to where his father was seated and plunged the sword through his body and part of the chair. From the next room, June Goodrich heard her husband cry out and say, “You’re going to kill me.” Using her walker, she entered the room to find her husband impaled by the sword.

“Don’t worry, Mom, it’s a fake sword,” Eli Goodrich said before removing the weapon. He then called his father “Satan” and said Alan Goodrich had raped his fiancée. When his mother asked if he was on drugs, he replied, “I must have gotten some bad weed.”

The shock of the scene caused Mrs. Goodrich to fall and fracture her back. Eli Goodrich then ran through the house, looking for a knife with which to kill himself. His mother convinced him to stop.

Later, under questioning by police, Eli Goodrich said that he and his father had a good relationship, despite occasional arguments over student loans and his mother’s health care. He said that he knew it was wrong to kill his father.

Goodrich told police that the voices in his head had tricked him into committing the murder. The last thing he heard the voices tell him, he said, was that his father was not the devil, that they “got” him, and, finally, “Checkmate.”

Approved for release by Matthew Weintraub, Chief of Prosecution.

26 Comments

  1. 26 Mike Rogers 09 Aug
    Sentence was far too harsh. This guy clearly was ill and that caused him to commit the crime. There was no other motive except his illness. I guess if the guy had $1 million laying around for his defense he wouldn't have been sentenced as if this were a contract killing. He should have been committed to a psychiatric hospital, but imprisoned. A tragedy all around, capped off by yet another sad failure of our court system.
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