CARY — A 77-year-old man lay still on an upstairs bed as a 911 dispatcher gave instructions for resuscitation attempts that proved futile late Wednesday night. His wife would be charged with his murder.
She said that she just choked her husband to death, an unidentified woman slowly told the dispatcher, sobs audible in the background. He was very sick and old, and she said that she just killed him.
Hours later, police charged Dottie Delaney Amtey, 61, with strangling her husband, Sharad Amtey, to death.
As day broke, the quiet shock of his death and her arrest spread to their neighbors in the Ashley Meadows subdivision in western Cary, to her marathon running partners and to his colleagues from a career in science. The death was the end of a long romantic union that crossed cultural and racial lines and Cary police say it could bring life in prison, without parole, for the widow.
They had a good time with each other they were just the cutest couple, said Ron Wahula, who knew them through Dottie Amteys long-time involvement in the Raleigh Galloway Marathon Training Program.
Dottie Amtey was the outgoing half of the pair, serving for years as a training leader in the marathon group. Her husband was reserved but enjoyed their social outings together, even gamely dressing as a monk to accompany her nun costume at a runners party, Wahula said.
Sharad Amtey arrived from India in 1964 as a Fulbright Program grantee. He was soon married to Dottie Amtey a rare union then, between an Indian man and an American nurse, but it blossomed as they raised five children, all with the initials U.S.A., friends say.
Dottie Amteys career included a switch from nursing to the IT profession and a job at UCB Pharma that ended last year for undisclosed reasons. Her husband was a research physicist, with career stops at universities and a massive government research project.
The couple had their challenges, too. A daughter, Usha Amtey Rangel, died of cancer in 2009 after a two-year illness. And Dottie Amtey seemed troubled this past winter by family affairs, according to Dasa Raghavan, who ran near-marathon lengths on the American Tobacco Trail with her.
Thats a long time to be with a person, Raghavan said. My role then was to just to let her talk and listen just listen and keep listening.
Dottie Amtey would offer details of family crises, which Raghavan declined to disclose and then she would recoil from further inquiries, he said. But none of the troubles pointed to a conflict with her husband, he said.
Criminal records show nothing beyond a speeding charge for Dottie Amtey.
She was a generous, giving person, and she was a social butterfly, too, Wahula said. Shed talk to anybody anytime, and thats what team leaders do.
As a medical physicist, Sharad Amtey focused on imaging technologies, such as X-ray machines. His academic career included time at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., West Virginia University and the University of Miami, according to a 1970 research proposal.
He worked as a radiation safety specialist on the superconducting super-collider, an aborted government project in Texas, according to colleague Robert Tyson, a professor at UNC Charlotte. He also was a kindly and patient graduate adviser at WVU, Tyson said.
He was just very good to me, Tyson said. We worked well together, and he helped me get my Ph.D.
Dottie Amtey had planned to attend her running groups season kick-off this weekend, most likely with her husband in tow. Instead, a minister from the group will visit her at the Wake County Detention Center, where she was being held under $1 million bail.
Cary police said that the charge against her is first-degree murder, but the Wake County District Attorneys Office has discounted that possibility. The attorneys office now is considering a second-degree murder charge.
Meanwhile, Dottie Amteys running partners will offer their love and support, Wahula said and theyll ask why this happened.
Shes one of our friends, Wahula said. We have to find out. You cant be passive about this.
Kenney: 919-460-2608 or twitter.com/KenneyOnCary