The husband accused of killing his wife in a swanky neighborhood south of downtown Orlando told detectives he found her dead in a half-full bathtub with the water running.
But there were problems with David Tronnes’ version of events in the April 24 death of Shanti Cooper-Tronnes: The bathtub and her body were dry when police and paramedics arrived at the home in the 200 block of East Copeland Drive on the edge of the Delaney Park neighborhood.
Tronnes has been indicted on a first-degree murder charge. The details were included in a hours-long audio interview between Tronnes and Orlando police detectives that was released Wednesday by the Orange-Osceola State Attorney’s Office.
He told detectives he believed his wife slipped and fell while getting into the bathtub. They said her injuries were too severe to have come from a fall. An autopsy determined the cause of death was blunt-force trauma to the head and strangulation.
One investigator said his account was “hogwash.”
“Common sense would tell you if you pull a woman — soaking wet — out of a tub at 3 o’clock and call the police within six minutes, that everything will be soaking wet when police arrive within three minutes of that,” Detective Teresa Sprague said. “That’s common sense.”
Tronnes responded: “So how did everything dry out?”
“That’s our question,” Sprague said.
Tronnes didn’t have an answer.
As the questioning became aggressive, Tronnes grew more reserved.
“Trust me: The evidence and her body speak for itself and your story is B.S.,” another investigator, Barb McClelland, said late in the interview. “So you’d better figure it out before it goes too far, because I’m telling you right now — nobody is going to believe that. Nobody.”
“If you maintain that,” she added, “you’re going to look like a fool.”
Tronnes thanked the detectives but told them he “didn’t have the information” they wanted.
“I feel like everything that I have said — and I know you don’t want to hear this, you’ve told me over and over — the things that you call discrepancies still ring true and are, if not perfectly accurate, directionally correct,” he said.
That drew exasperated responses from the investigators.
“You’ve fake cried for about seven or eight hours today. Not one tear came out of your eyes — not one,” Sprague said. “You have fake cried over this woman’s death since we made contact with you. … There is not a lick of remorse for what you did to this woman.”
Tronnes spoke less as detectives tried to get him to explain his wife’s injuries.
They offered a few theories about what happened: that he killed his wife accidentally, during sex or a heated argument; that he planned to kill her in order to get her life insurance payout or to be with another woman. Tronnes stayed quiet.
The detectives also offered possible motives: The couple had been arguing, over money and renovations to their home. Tronnes had been sleeping on a couch in the garage. They’d been fighting. The house was owned by a trust in his name — without her, it would be his alone.
Tronnes described the day of the killing, saying he went for a walk in the morning before returning home. He left again to take their dogs to a park. He said he assumed Cooper-Tronnes was upstairs resting.
“Now I’m concerned she wasn’t OK when I left [for the park],” he said. “I wish I would have taken the time to check on her.”
Sprague told Tronnes she believed Cooper-Tonnes died sometime that morning.
He said he returned home about 2 p.m. and did some yardwork before going inside and finding his wife.
Tronnes said that when he saw his wife in the tub, he pulled her out and took her into the living room. But that also was dry, investigators said.
The two met on Match.com in 2013. Months later, Tronnes moved to Florida to live with Cooper-Tronnes. They married last year.
In the beginning of the interview, Tronnes painted his life with Cooper-Tronnes as “really happy.”
He told detectives the two were renovating their home and recently signed on to be part of a house-improvement reality show.
“We love what we were doing for the house [and] the vision we had,” said an emotional Tronnes. “It was a thing we did together. It just seemed like everything was coming together.”