Houston County bodybuilder, 79, convicted of stabbing wife to death in February attack

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Harold G. “Bud” Seidenfaden, a former competitive bodybuilder who had fallen into ill health in his late 70s, was on Tuesday convicted of murdering his wife earlier this year in a knife attack during an argument over whether he should have surgery on an injured shoulder.

Seidenfaden, 79, was found guilty of felony murder in the Feb. 7 slaying of 60-year-old Debora “Debbie” McPhail Seidenfaden after a two-day bench trial in Houston County Superior Court. He was sentenced to life in prison.

The couple had lived in a recreational vehicle, where the murder happened, behind a house off Elko Road, about four miles south of Perry and the Georgia National Fairgrounds.

The day of the killing, according to prosecutors, the two fussed about a shoulder operation that Bud Seidenfaden apparently needed to have — and that his wife urged him to get — but that he didn’t wish to undergo.

“They ended up arguing so bad about it,” said Justin Duane, an assistant Houston district attorney, “he ended up stabbing her.”

Duane said Bud Seidenfaden, perhaps distraught, tried to slit his wrists after mortally wounding his wife with what investigators believe may have been a chef’s knife from their kitchen.

The prosecutor told The Telegraph that Bud Seidenfaden had also suffered from heart problems in recent years and that his declining health had left him unable to work out the way he was accustomed to.

Debbie Seidenfaden, a mother of one and a former bus driver for Houston County schools, had enjoyed traveling to Florida’s beaches, especially Cocoa Beach, according to her obituary.

About a decade ago, Bud Seidenfaden was featured in a south Florida newspaper story about older bodybuilders. In a photo accompanying that article, he was well-tanned, flexing in a mirror.

In another newspaper write-up from around that time, this one in the local Houston Home Journal, Bud Seidenfaden, a former firefighter and Kentucky native who had moved to Perry in the early 2000s, spoke of his fondness for bodybuilding later in life.

“It’s about staying healthy and fit,” he said.

At the time, he was managing a Perry gym.

“I always tell people I’m starting my new 30 years,” he told the Home Journal. “I have a 30-year plan I’m starting right now. That’s to get up early, have a cup of coffee, let the dogs out and get my wife up. I’m up and in the gym by 5:30 and train my first person at 6. If I stay busy, I’m tired when I got to bed at night at 9.”

He would be 108 before he is eligible for parole.

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