New court documents show Linda Brandt's husband, Ronald Wert, not only violated a protection from abuse order she had against him, but also shot himself sometime after Brandt was killed. He was arrested for having guns in his possession, after his guns were ordered to be taken away by the sheriff’s office in June for violating that PFA.
According to Cumberland County District Attorney Skip Ebert, Brandt and Wert were in the middle of a lengthy, contentious divorce at the time of her death. And the court documents are there to prove it.
"This is long,” Ebert said while sifting through court documents. “Here's one - an indirect criminal contempt against her. So it just went back and forth.”
After police found Brandt's body, they received a call from Wert's son, who told them his father suffered what appeared to be a self-inflicted gun shot wound. He was then taken to the hospital.
Back in March, Brandt filed a PFA against Wert. One month later, a new law was passed with the help of the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence, that requires all defendants who are subject to a final PFA order to relinquish guns within 24 hours. They also can't give them to relatives or friends. Before the change, they had 60 days. The CEO of PCADV Susan Higginbotham, said that's the most dangerous time.
“Having weapons in the home just makes it a lot more volatile situation so it’s a lot of times when survivors come forward to request help that the danger escalates,” Higginbotham said. “So this is an opportunity to reduce the most dangerous situations.”
On June 18th, Wert allegedly violated his PFA order by calling Brandt. So she filed a complaint. Ebert said the sheriff’s office went to his home and collected all of his weapons, 13 of them. According to the new law, he shouldn’t have had any guns in his possession at the time of his self-inflicted gun shot wound. So how did he have one?
“They don’t have the authority to ‘search the house’ so that’s kind of what led to the obstruction of justice,” Ebert said. “If he didn’t fully disclose all the weapons that he had, then in essence he was obstructing the sheriff from doing what they were required to do which was confiscate all of his weapons.”
Investigators can't confirm if he gave up all of his weapons the day the sheriff's office came to collect them, or if he acquired them later.
“What’s so hard about this situation is we don’t know all the facts yet,” Higginbotham said. “I know that Act 79 is a huge improvement over what we had before. And I think it will save lives.”
While the current law doesn't require a person's home to be searched before taking their guns, the sheriff could get a search warrant if he deems it necessary. Ebert said he plans to talk about the issue more with the sheriff.
Wert has not been charged in the death of Brandt, but investigators said he is a person of interest.