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Bethlehem Man Accused in Beating Death of Mom to Face Trial

Charges against Michael Lindgren in the death of his 77-year-old mother are bound over for court at a preliminary hearing.

Around midnight Aug. 20, an agitated Michael B. Lindgren was at police headquarters in Bethlehem telling a desk sergeant that he needed help and wanted to make a long-distance call. 

The desk sergeant called for an ambulance for a "302" -- an involuntary psychiatric evaluation -- but canceled it after the 51-year-old Lindgren said, "You can't help me" and left the station, according to Officer Christopher Kopp, who overheard the exchange. 

"At that point he didn't seem to be a threat to us or himself," Kopp testified at a preliminary hearing at Northampton County Court today (Dec. 11) on charges Lindgren brutally beat his parents, which resulted in his mother's death.

About 20 minutes after Lindgren's visit to the police station, Kopp responded to a report of a burglar alarm at 209 E. Wall St. and found Lindgren walking out of the home of his parents, John and Shirley, with blood on his hands, feet and pants, Kopp said. 

"He stated to me without being asked, 'I just had to kill them,'" Kopp testified. 

Kopp and another officer handcuffed Lindgren and went inside, where they found John and Shirley Lindgren severely beaten up and bleeding. John Ralph Lindgren, known as J.R., was bleeding from an ear and his nose and had fractured eye sockets and ribs. 

Both parents were taken to St. Luke's University Hospital, where Shirley died the next day from "severe head injuries," according to Lehigh County Coroner Scott Grim.  

Their son, Michael Lindgren of 516 Hayes St., Bethlehem, was charged with homicide, attempted homicide, aggravated assault, simple assault and recklessly endangering another person.

During today's hearing, Lindgren sat at the defense table in an orange prison jumpsuit, staring into space with a blank expression. 

Bethlehem Police Officer Michael Karaboulias testified that he accompanied Michael Lindgren to the hospital in an ambulance and heard the suspect rambling with repeated statements such as "I had to do it. I'm completely insane. They took my money. They took everything from me."

The charges against Lindgren were bound over for court by District Judge Roy Manwaring. The suspect is committed to Northampton County Prison. 

Following the hearing, Assistant District Attorney Richard Pepper said he believed that John Lindgren has been released from the hospital but has not completely recovered from his injuries.

Pepper would not say if he believes Michael Lindgren is mentally ill, but only that the suspect has a long medical history. "He is on a lot of prescription drugs," Pepper said.

John and Shirley Lindgren celebrated their 53rd anniversary in 2011. Both had been active in the community. Shirley was a founding member of the Bethlehem Special Olympics and was inducted in the Pennsylvania Special Olympics Hall of Fame in 2011.

She also served on the Bethlehem Area School Board from 1981-1985 and was a member of the League of Women Voters, the Bethlehem Historic Neighborhood Association and other groups.

John, a retired Lehigh University professor, had been named president of the fledgling Bethlehem Human Relations Commission.   

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