Fish Springs man charged with open murder

Sheila Gardner

Bail was set at $1 million Friday for an 81-year-old Fish Springs man charged with open murder in the shooting death of his 51-year-old caretaker.

Melvin Oneal Norlund was jailed Thursday night after he reportedly confessed to a neighbor and Douglas County sheriff’s deputies that he shot Catherine Mary Costanza accidentally following an argument in his home in the 1300 block of Homestead Road.

Officers found Costanza dead on the floor near the kitchen in Norlund’s residence.

The suspect directed officers to a single-barrel shotgun on the floor behind a recliner in the living room.

Norlund was taken into custody after the neighbor called 911 about 1:20 p.m. Thursday.

According to court documents, she told investigators Norlund came to her house, rang the doorbell, and said, “We need to get the sheriff out here.”

At first, Norlund told the neighbor there had been shooting near his house. He changed his story to say “someone had been shot at his residence.”

While she was on the phone with the sheriff’s office, Norlund reportedly said he and Costanza, a Concord, Calif., resident, had argued.

The witness told officers that Norlund said he told Costanza “to shut up or he would shoot her dog … Somehow, she got shot.”

He told the woman that Costanza was dead.

Deputies took Norlund into custody without incident.

While he was in a patrol vehicle awaiting transport to Douglas County Jail, he volunteered, “I shot her,” according to reports.

Norlund told the deputy that he was expecting his son.

“It all started over a damn argument. That gal in there, that gal that got shot in there, she called my son … and talked to him and gave him a bunch of garbage and told me he would be here in a few minutes, and that’s why things got off so damn long. I was waiting for him to drive in,” Norlund reportedly told the officer.

Norlund is set for arraignment Monday.

Douglas County Sgt. Pat Brooks said Friday that Norlund was housed in an isolated holding cell and was checked by jail personnel every 15 minutes.

Brooks said he did not know how long Costanza had been taking care of Norlund.

The residence is in Fish Springs, about five miles east of Gardnerville.

The incident remains under investigation, Brooks said.

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