Hamel, of the 2800 block of Pickertown Road, Warrington, was charged Friday morning with first-degree murder. He was arrested at Doylestown Hospital, where he had been admitted for treatment, said Bucks County First Assistant District Attorney Dale A. Reichley. Reichley and a hospital spokeswoman declined to reveal the nature of Hamel's illness.
Hamel was sent Friday to Bucks County Prison, where he was being held without bail, Reichley said.
Luzerne County Coroner George E. Hudock, who performed the autospy, said Friday night that the victim died of suffocation while being strangled with what appeared to be a woman's stocking. He said that she had been severely beaten on the head and arms with a blunt object. Tests to determine whether she had been sexually assaulted were not completed, Hudock said.
Gary Winton, a friend of Arlene Hamel's for the last year, said last week that he never suspected the couple had any serious marital problems. He said that Arlene, a systems analyst at the Prudential Insurance Co. of America in Horsham Township, and Larry, a truck driver, had been married for about five years and had no children.
"I don't think they had any more problems than any married couple," Winton said. "She was a nice lady. I liked her a lot. . . . She was a lot of fun. From what I heard, they took some trips and stuff like that."
Winton said he spoke to Arlene Hamel on the telephone the day she was slain.
"She just told me they were going to (play) bingo that night in Levittown," Winton said.
Warrington police searched for the body in a wooded area in a section of Mountaintop, Fairview Township, after Larry Hamel told neighbors, friends and police where he had hidden Arlene's body, according to the affidavit of probable cause. The body was found in the area described by Hamel, the document said.
Arlene Hamel's car, which Larry Hamel told police he took from their home, was found parked at Philadelphia International Airport, Reichley said.