Chambers County man told family he feared his wife would kill him before his murder, affidavit shows

Mycah Hatfield Image
Tuesday, February 28, 2023
Man took steps to leave wife before 'diabetic episode,' record shows
Only ABC13 gained access to a warrant affidavit that uncovered a Chambers County husband's actions before he slipped into a diabetic episode. Investigators believe his wife played a role in his eventual death.

CHAMBERS COUNTY, Texas (KTRK) -- A Chambers County man was preparing to divorce his wife before an apparent "diabetic episode" and died days later.

Sarah Hartsfield is charged with her husband's murder and is being held on a $5 million bond.

Only ABC13 obtained a warrant affidavit that shows her husband, Joseph Hartsfield, asked a family member on Jan. 3 if he could stay with him because he planned to divorce Sarah. That family member told investigators that Joseph would typically go to work two to three hours early to get away from Sarah.

Family members described their relationship as "toxic" and said they would argue regularly. Two of Joseph's relatives said Sarah tried to keep him away from his family.

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"(Joseph's sister) advised she is never allowed to see her brother, and Sarah continuously blocks her and (his mother) from Joseph's phone without his consent," investigators noted of their conversation with Joseph's sister in a search warrant affidavit.

Relatives told investigators that Joseph returned to his hometown of Huntsville on Jan. 5 and opened a new bank account, according to an affidavit. He said he planned to divorce Sarah.

Three of the four family members investigators spoke to said Joseph voiced concerns on several occasions that Sarah might try to kill him.

On Jan. 7, Joseph was taken to the hospital for a sharp drop in his blood sugar that his wife said started the day before.

According to the search warrant affidavit, Sarah said she woke up in the middle of the night and noticed her husband of 11 months was experiencing dangerously low blood sugar. She told investigators both she and her husband had an app on their phones that would alert them when his blood sugar dipped.

She said his blood sugar dipped to 40 mg/dL, which is well below normal.

"Sarah advised she then set a glass of juice on the kitchen counter in case Joseph needed it," the affidavit read. "Sarah advised she knows Joseph drank some of the juice because when she went to check, the glass was empty, so she refilled it. "

Investigators learned that at about 1 p.m. on Jan. 7, she checked on her husband and found he was unresponsive. She said she attempted to feed him jam to raise his blood sugar but was unsuccessful.

An hour after finding her husband unresponsive, Sarah called 911, according to the affidavit.

Joseph, who was described as brain-dead, remained unresponsive at the hospital for eight days before he died on Jan. 15.

While speaking to investigators, Sarah cried and said she "felt guilty because she normally takes better care of him." She said she was on narcotics that night from a surgery she had in December.

When investigators executed a search warrant of the Hartsfield home while Joseph was in the hospital, they noted that they found evidence inconsistent with Sarah's story. They also noted in the affidavit that they found eight to 10 insulin pens on Joseph's side of the bed.

Investigators interviewed the nurse who contacted law enforcement the day Joseph arrived at the hospital after suspecting foul play.

She believed it was suspicious based on the amount of glucose they had to administer to the patient. She said it should have been enough to last for hours, but Joseph's blood sugar kept crashing.

"I asked (the nurse) what would happen if he was given too much insulin prior to coming in, and she advised, 'It would keep his blood sugar low,'" the Chambers County investigator wrote in the affidavit "'What we were giving to counteract the low blood sugar, it would work, but not like it should.' 'It should have lasted for hours, but we were having to check this man every thirty minutes to an hour, and we were having to give him more.'"

Sarah is being held in the Chambers County jail on a $5 million bond. Her attorneys have filed a motion to have her bond reduced. A judge will hear that motion on Wednesday.

The state has said in the past they are against lowering it because they believe she is a flight risk.

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WATCH: Chambers County woman given $5M bond after she's charged in husband's murder

Sarah Jean Hartsfield, a Chambers County woman accused of killing her husband Joseph, is in jail on a $5 million bond. We're following that story and more in our top stories above.