NAPLES — Two years before law enforcement officials say Jeffery Moretz entered a North Naples hospital and fatally shot his estranged wife, he admitted to firing a gun several times during an argument with his son.
Interviews immediately following the 2009 argument paint a picture of Moretz as either a father defending himself from a mentally unstable son, or a man on the verge of suicide who had contemplated killing his own family.
Collier County Sheriff’s Office officials said Jeffery Moretz, 54, shot and killed 53-year-old Christine Moretz, his wife of 36 years, before shooting and wounding himself Tuesday at Physicians Regional-Pine Ridge.
NBC-2 cameras showed a medical helicopter airlifting Jeffery Moretz away from Physicians Regional-Pine Ridge and landing at Lee Memorial Hospital, the area’s only trauma center, on Tuesday evening. However, a hospital spokeswoman couldn’t confirm whether Moretz was a patient, citing privacy laws.
The Sheriff's Office reported that he was in intensive care Tuesday. No updates have been released about his condition. He has not been charged in the shooting.
In transcripts of interviews taken hours after Jeffery Moretz fired several shots in his Golden Gate Estates house on Aug. 19, 2009, accounts differ about his behavior. Jeffery Moretz was charged with a felony aggravated assault count stemming from the 2009 argument, but the charge was dropped after Chad and Christine Moretz stopped cooperating with prosecutors.
During his August 2009 interview, Chad Moretz, the then-30-year-old son of Jeffery and Christine Moretz, said his father had expressed thoughts about killing family members. One month before the 2009 argument, Jeffery Moretz thought about shooting his wife and going back to sleep, Chad Moretz said.
“He’s talked about killing everybody, including my daughters before,” Chad Moretz told investigators.
In his interview, Jeffery Moretz said his son was verbally abusive and threatening after coming home from a bad dentist appointment. Chad Moretz was upset his parents sent him to an incompetent doctor, cursing at his mother and throwing a shelf and lamp in his father’s direction, Jeffery Moretz said.
Looking to defuse the situation, Jeffery Moretz pulled a hidden gun from out of his desk.
“He kept getting belligerent and kept cussing at me, and so forth, and, and I figured I was gonna be attacked, ‘cause I have been in the past,” Jeffery Moretz told investigators. “I didn’t really want that to happen anymore I guess, so I thought maybe I could scare him off …”
Jeffery Moretz then fired several shots in the air, including one that went near Chad Moretz’s wife, Kim. In a written statement, Kim Moretz described a bullet “zooming past my ear.”
“I know it was wrong,” she added. “But if Jeff wanted to really shoot us, we would have bullet wounds.”
Once Chad Moretz had left the house, Jeffery Moretz considered killing himself, telling investigators he was scared by the prospect of jail and frustrated with his son.
“My real intent was to try to find the gun and put the last caliber in my head, and I just, years of fighting with my son, it’s been very difficult,” Jeffery Moretz said.
He decided not to kill himself after talking with his pastor and wife, though he did take six Xanax pills, Christine Moretz told deputies.
Several hours after the argument, Jeffery Moretz told investigators the shots were fired in self defense.
“I never once pointed it at (Chad) and never once endangered anyone,” Jeffery Moretz said.
Jeffery Moretz said his son had psychiatric and anger issues.
“He’s blackened my face so bad that you wouldn’t even recognize,” Jeffery Moretz said.
Court records show Chad Moretz has been found guilty on or pleaded guilty to eight misdemeanor charges in Sandusky, Ohio, and in Collier County since 2000. The charges ranged from battery to disorderly conduct to resisting arrest. He currently has an outstanding warrant for contempt of court in Collier County.
Accounts also differ about whether Jeffery Moretz had been violent with his wife before he allegedly shot her Tuesday. Christine Moretz, who filed for divorce last month, citing irreconcilable differences, wrote following her husband’s 2009 arrest that he had never been violent toward her.
Chad Moretz told investigators that wasn’t the case.
“I’ve had to talk him down many a times from killing her,” Chad Moretz said, adding Christine Moretz talked about leaving her husband “a couple” times.
At the end of his interview with investigators, Jeffery Moretz said the incident “got out of hand” and that he was defending his family.
Asked if there was anything else to add, he replied, “I can’t think of anything that would be important to the case, but whoever’s listening I, I hope you can help my son.”