A 58-year-old Michigan man will spend decades behind bars for killing and dismembering his own father before fleeing the state.
Kalamazoo County Circuit Judge Paul Bridenstine on Monday ordered Scott Sterffy to serve a 25- to 50-year sentence in a state penitentiary for the 2021 murder of 82-year-old retired oral surgeon Dr. Thomas Aye, authorities confirmed to Law&Crime.
Judge Bridenstine also sentenced Sterffy to four to 10 years in prison for mutilating a corpse, to be served alongside the murder sentence.
Sterffy, who was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and institutionalized earlier in his life, pleaded last month to mental illness – no contest to the second-degree murder charge in his father’s murder. Authorities say that before being dismembered, Aye had suffered multiple blunt trauma and stab wounds to the face, head and body. He was also asphyxiated.
Doctors at the Center for Forensic Psychiatry initially ruled him incompetent to stand trial but later determined him to be competent, according to a report by Michigan-based media conglomerate MLive.
Detectives from the Portage Police Service say Aye’s body was discovered by one of her daughters at around 7pm on July 25, 2021 at her home in the 5000 block of Glencove Court. His daughter was reportedly watching him after he failed to show up for a date.
Investigators determined that Sterffy had been staying at his father’s home at the time of the murder and fled the state shortly thereafter. The murder sparked a nationwide manhunt for Sterffy, who was located and taken into custody in Kalamazoo, Michigan just days after his father’s death.
During Monday’s sentencing hearing, Sterffy continued to assert that he was innocent of hurting his father during a testy exchange with Judge Bridenstine.
“It was a brutal and horrific experience that your father had,” Bridenstine said, according to MLive’s report.
But Sterffy reportedly cut off the presiding judge, interrupting him to deny responsibility.
“I didn’t,” Sterffy reportedly replied. “I didn’t hit him in the head with a hammer, I didn’t cut his face off.”
“The court found you liable, Mr Sterffy,” Judge Bridenstine reportedly said. “You may disagree [with] me all you want, but I found you responsible based on all the evidence that was presented.
During the investigation, Sterffy’s sister told police she believed her brother had stopped taking the medication for his mental health at some point in 2019, according to the MLive story.
Aye’s obituary noted that her son had struggled with such mental health issues.
“He silently and uncomplainingly carried the burden of his son’s mental illness; he just wanted his son to feel loved, cared for, and given the opportunity to live a full life,” the obituary read. “He lived with the sadness of [his wife] Judy’s death and her son’s illness without ever thinking that life was unfair. Instead, he leaned into his own struggles as access to empathy for others, often proving a safe haven for those in need.
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