Holland man allegedly kills estranged wife and tells witness, ‘the dogs did that’

A 75-year-old Holland man brutally murdered his estranged wife Friday and then blamed dogs for the attack, according to State Police reports filed in the gruesome case.

Jonathan Kastberg was arraigned Monday in Palmer District Court on charges of murder and violating an abuse prevention order stemming from the slaying of Janet Kastberg, 60, who had taken out the order on her estranged husband, records show.

A not guilty plea was entered on Jonathan Kastberg’s behalf, and he was ordered held without bail pending a hearing Aug. 1, according to legal filings. His lawyer couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

Troopers’ reports filed in the case said Kastberg was covered in blood outside his wife’s home on Brimfield Road when police arrived on scene late Friday afternoon.


Janet Kastberg was clearly deceased with her legs in the trunk of a vehicle and her torso on the ground, the reports said.

“There were multiple bloodied white sheets around the body,” Trooper Kevin C. Hobart wrote in his report. “Her face appeared to receive severe trauma and was bloodied.” Hobart said he could hear Jonathan Kastberg “repeatedly banging things and screaming in the cruiser” after his arrest. In addition to his bloody clothes, Kastberg also had an empty knife sheath on his belt, filings show.

An unnamed woman told investigators that she stayed with Janet Kastberg on Thursday night and that Kastberg had recently installed an alarm system because she was afraid of her husband, Trooper Thomas W. Sullivan wrote in a second report.

The woman told authorities that Jonathan Kastberg had informed Janet that he would kill her son if she left him, Sullivan wrote.

On Friday afternoon, the woman returned to Janet Kastberg’s home and found her lying covered in blood near the back of a vehicle, with her eyes “bulged out and black,” Sullivan’s report said. John Kastberg, also bloodied, told the woman, “I’m getting my tractor out to bury Janet” and “the dogs did that,” Sullivan wrote.


The woman fled in her vehicle and called 911.

“Investigators located four dogs and did not observe any blood on the dogs,” Sullivan wrote.

He said Jonathan Kastberg spoke to investigators post-arrest, claiming Janet had given him permission to come to the house to cut trees. Jonathan said he approached the residence from the woods to find Janet “full of blood crawling outside,” Sullivan wrote.

Jonathan Kastberg gave “conflicting statements on whether or not another individual was there and a green truck being there,” Sullivan wrote. “Kastberg stated that he was trying to put Janet Kastberg in the trunk of his car to bring her to the hospital” when her female friend showed up.

“Investigators found no signs of tree cutting on the property,” Sullivan wrote. “ . . . A post mortem examination was performed and the cause of death was determined to be caused by blunt force trauma to the head.”

A booking sheet lists Jonathan Kastberg’s occupation as “off and on McDonalds.” When police arrived on scene Friday, the 145-pound suspect had “blood covering his workboots, his blue jeans, his T-shirt and on his hands, arms, neck, and face,” legal filings show.

John R. Ellement of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.