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Man charged with murder by poisoning roommate with windshield washer fluid, police say

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Thomas L. Holifield

Thomas L. Holifield

MICHIGAN CITY — A Michigan City man killed his roommate last summer by poisoning her with windshield washer fluid because he thought she was being disrespectful toward him, court records allege. 

Thomas L. Holifield, 59, was charged with murder after his roommate, 64-year-old Pamela Keltz, died June 1 from methanol poisoning, according to Michigan City police and LaPorte County Coroner Lynn Swanson.

Holifield has pleaded not guilty, LaPorte Superior Court records show.

Judge Jamie Oss in October appointed mental health professionals to determine whether Holifield is competent to stand trial, court records show. Holifield's next court hearing was set for Jan. 20.

Keltz was being treated in the intensive care unit at Franciscan Health hospital in Michigan City when Holifield contacted police May 30 and said he wanted to confess to poisoning her, according to court documents.

Holifield told police he once had a romantic relationship with Keltz, but he recently had been renting a room from her and that she was his "best friend."

He said he moved to Michigan City from Georgia about a month earlier, and he devised a plan to poison Keltz because he thought she was disrespectful toward him.

"He began by putting eye drops into her cup of pop," court records state. "Thomas noted that the eye drops were not causing severe enough illness. Pamela would have hallucinations and diarrhea but then recover."

In May, Holifield noticed a bottle of windshield washer fluid in Keltz's room and saw it contained methanol, which he learned was poisonous, documents state.

Holifield told police he put some of the windshield washer fluid in Keltz's 2-liter bottles of pop and she became sick and went to a hospital.

After she returned home, he began putting larger quantities of windshield washer fluid in her pop bottles, records state. He allegedly admitted his goal was to kill her.

Michigan City police executed a search warrant at Keltz's home and found a nearly empty gallon-size bottle of Champion windshield washer fluid, which Holifield had said was nearly full when he began poisoning Keltz, records state.

Police also found a funnel on top of the bottle and several empty pop bottles in a recycling bin outside the home, records state.

Holifield told police Keltz drank her pop out of a Taco Bell cup, which officers found in her bedroom, records state.

Police noticed there was a light bluish liquid in the cup that had an odor similar to an alcoholic beverage, records state.

Holifield told police he was a heavy drinker but Keltz didn't drink alcohol, which "was a point of contention between the two of them" because she didn't like his habit, records state.

After learning Keltz had been poisoned with methanol, doctors altered her course of treatment and saw some signs of stabilization, records state. However, her condition remained unchanged and she was declared brain dead.

Her family chose to remove her from life support June 1, records state.


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