A former Morro Bay resident who allegedly tried to pass his wife’s strangulation off as a suicide will appear in court Thursday, charged with murder.
The District Attorney’s Office filed a single charge of murder Wednesday against James Victor Lypps, 64, more than five years after the defendant’s wife, Sherre Ann Neal-Lypps, 62, was found dead in a bathtub.
According to court records reviewed by The Tribune, neighbors said the couple had fought often, with Neal-Lypps always being the aggressor.
On the morning of June 23, 2009, Lypps said he had gone to a coffee shop and to a grocery store before returning home to find his wife in the bath tub, according to an affidavit filed by a Morro Bay Police Department detective. When emergency responders arrived, they found a partially clothed Neal-Lypps submerged in roughly 5-6 inches of water. Water was also on the floor around the tub.
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While Lypps presented police with two suicide notes he said his wife had written, a coroner said bruising on Neal-Lypps’ body was inconsistent with suicide. Police called the crime suspicious, and they would not eliminate her husband as a suspect. Meanwhile, an autopsy concluded that the cause of death was strangulation and drowning.
Still, the case lingered for more than five years.
Lypps, who had since moved to Nipomo, was arrested this week after DNA evidence allegedly linked him to a physical struggle with his wife.
According to court records, Lypps has two prior convictions in San Luis Obispo County — one for driving under the influence in 2007 and another for drunken driving in 2004.
Neal-Lypps was charged with several offenses in a 1999 case, including burglary and vandalism, but pleaded no contest to failure to leave when asked. She also pleaded no contest in 1998 to a charge of trespassing or injuring property.