A 65-year-old man called 911 dispatchers Wednesday and told them he had strangled his wife in their east Santa Rosa home, authorities said.
He told dispatchers he would be waiting for police by the front door of their home in Rincon Valley Mobile Estates, according to an initial report of the 911 call.
Santa Rosa police found the body of Virginia Caetano, 64, on the floor of the couple's living room with a ligature around her neck, Sgt. Dave Linscomb said.
They detained her husband, Dean "Sonny" Eliason, and booked him into the Sonoma County Jail late Wednesday on suspicion of murder, jail officials said. No bail was set.
The homicide investigation was the first in Santa Rosa in 2013.
The man made the 911 call at 12:18 p.m. and, after stating that he thought he'd killed his wife, told dispatchers he was depressed, according to initial reports.
When police arrived, they ordered Eliason to exit the home and took him into custody.
Officers cordoned off the yellow home on Cardinal Way, located in a tidy mobile home community near the intersection of Highway 12 and Mission Boulevard. A lush and colorful garden grew on either side of a short pathway to the home's entrance.
An animal control officer carried away the couple's brown and white terrier.
Across the street, neighbor Cornelliea O'Neill sobbed as she stood in her door, watching officers guard her friend's home behind yellow police tape.
O'Neill said Caetano and Eliason were her friends and they appeared to be a loving married couple.
"She was my friend, a lovely lady," O'Neill said. "And he was a lovely husband. They just had problems, just like all of us."
O'Neill said Caetano had battled illness last year but her health had been getting better.
"Her husband took really good care of her last year," O'Neill said.
Caetano and Eliason were both retired, she said. O'Neill said she often gardened with Caetano and they were among a group of residents who went from home to home helping with neighbors' yards.
Down the street, friends met on Lois Fisher's porch, drawn by the sight of police cars. They estimated the couple had lived there at least five years.
"This is not normal for here," Eva Hyles said.
"This is a nice place, we all take care of each other," Violet Schaffner said. "Someone should have taken care of them."
O'Neill said she heard Caetano playing with her dog earlier Wednesday morning. She said the couple had faced recent challenges, but didn't want to discuss the details. Still, she could not have anticipated what appeared to have taken place Wednesday.
"I am shocked. It's a sad thing ... I must have missed it," O'Neill said, referring to signs of trouble.