Man stabs wife at the base of her skull with a kitchen knife, wraps her body and dumps it in trash can outside home

On Friday, Joseph Trager, 50, was charged with murder without premeditation, tampering with evidence, and lying to law enforcement in the death of his wife Jeneen Catanzaro.

According to the police, a woman who had earlier been reported missing was later found stabbed to death, wrapped in trash bags, and left outside to be picked up by a garbage truck. Court records show that Joseph Edward Traeger, 50, allegedly murdered Jeneen Ann Catanzaro, 50, before giving false information to police and then tampering with evidence, leading to his arrest on Thursday, the Sun-Sentinel reports.

During Traeger's first court appearance Saturday, he was ordered to be held in the Broward County Jail without bond. Traeger had allegedly given several contradictory statements to detectives during their missing person investigation, according to the arrest report.

Joseph Edward Traeger and Jeneen Ann Catanzaro (Broward County Sheriff's Office/Sunrise Police)

The report stated that Traeger eventually admitted to fatally stabbing Catanzaro, concealing her body using three garbage bags, and then leaving her in a garbage can in front of their residence. Authorities later found Catanzaro's body in the landfill at 4400 State Road 7 in Davie.

During the past year, the couple had allegedly been having marital and financial problems due to Traeger's heroin addiction, he told investigators. Catanzaro allegedly asked her husband to move out of their home in the 100 block of Riverwalk Circle in late October, but on November 28 he came back  begging her to take him back in. 

The arrest report stated that Catanzaro refused his request but allowed him inside to take a shower. Soon after, the couple got into a heated argument before she dialed 911. Speaking to detectives, Traeger finally admitted to throwing his wife to the kitchen floor, muffling her screams with his hand, grabbing a kitchen knife and stabbing her once from behind at the base of her cranium.

The arrest report stated that the knife went into her neck and she died instantly. As the blood pooled around her head, Traeger started to hide the evidence of the murder and he used paper towels to try and clear the scene. He took the knife he used to murder his wife and threw it in a dumpster behind and an unknown eatery.

Traeger's confession was corroborated with neighborhood surveillance video and cell phone records, detectives said. The 50-year-old admitted to making calls and sending texts to Catanzaro's cellphone in an attempt to cover his tracks. He even left a note on the kitchen counter thanking her for letting him move back in the house.

Police said that Catanzaro last had a conversation with her parents on November 27 via phone, days before Joanne Roma reported her daughter missing on December 2. Traeger told detectives during the missing person investigation that he last saw his wife at about 7:30 am November 29 before he went to work. He said during an interview prior to his arrest that he was "devastated" after his wife went missing. “She meant the world to me, my wife. I have known her since I was 9 years old, since I was 10 years old. We have known each other 40 years,” Traeger told WFOR-Ch.4.

That said, Catanzaro had filed two domestic violence reports with Sunrise police earlier this year, claiming Traeger had struck her violently and hurled her down a staircase in their residence.

The victim’s stepfather, Michael Lenover on December 7 had made a call to the police saying that he had been warning Catanzaro of Traeger’s violent behavior. “He stated he was one hundred percent certain that Joseph had killed Jeneen,” according to the arrest report.

Lenover informed the police that Traeger had a violent past and was convicted of attempted murder when he strangled and raped his former wife. He said he made Catanzaro call him every morning to let him know she was still alive. He added that he constantly urged her to divorce Traeger.


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