TAMPA — A major in the Turkish military on assignment at Central Command appeared in court Thursday to face charges he tied up his wife and stuck a sock in her mouth before her death.
Huseyin Kurtdere, 39, faces three counts of false imprisonment and three counts of battery in connection with the woman’s death at the family’s apartment in Hyde Park. Their three daughters were in the apartment at the time of the death, according to court testimony Thursday.
Kurtdere told investigators his wife, Nalan, 38, had been acting erratically and he believed she was suffering from post-partum depression, according to an arrest affidavit. She had given birth in December. Kurtdere had been tying her up for three days when she tried to leave the home barefoot and gave her the sleep aid melatonin to calm her, the affidavit said.
The family has no other relatives locally and the children — ages 7, 4 and 8 months — were taken into custody by the state Department of Children and Family Services.
The woman’s name and relationship to Kurtdere are redacted from the affidavit released by police but she was identified during court testimony Thursday.
An autopsy was conducted Tuesday to determine the cause of death. It remains under investigation.
A judge set Kurtdere’s bail at $245,000 and ordered him to turn over his passport. If released from jail, he will have to wear a GPS ankle monitor, remain under house arrest and have no contact with the couple’s children. Records show he was still in jail Thursday. He is represented by a public defender.
Kurtdere represents Turkey on the U.S. Central Command Coalition, a group of some 50 nations based at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa that focuses on the fight against terrorism. He has been in Tampa since July 2019, according to court testimony.
Contacted Wednesday by the Tampa Bay Times, Navy Capt. Bill Urban, CentCom spokesman, said, “It’s a law enforcement matter and we refer you to the Tampa Police Department.”
The arrest affidavit and court testimony provide this account:
At about 2:30 p.m. Monday, Tampa police received an emergency call from the 500 block of S Fremont Ave. about an individual who was not breathing. Police and Tampa Fire Rescue arrived to find Kurtdere, his wife and their children. Officers learned that Kurtdere had been giving his wife CPR as he waited for rescue personnel.
Kurtdere told them that for several days, he had been trying to keep his wife from leaving the apartment.
The couple’s 7-year-old daughter told investigators she saw her father tie up her mother with red, yellow and blue fitness bands and gag her with a sock. The daughter said he sought her help at one point to tie up her mother’s ankles.
Kurtdere agreed to speak with investigators after they advised him of his rights, saying his wife began acting erratically around July 10. He sought treatment for her July 13 from a doctor at MacDill and she was prescribed medication.
She stopped taking the medication four days later when her infant daughter, whom she was breastfeeding, appeared to have a negative reaction to it. She began to act erratically again, he said, and he restrained her July 24 and 25, trying her up with bedsheets and workout bands to prevent her from leaving.
She resisted so he gave her melatonin and water and she “calmed down.” He would release her from her bindings from time to time, but on Saturday, July 25, she was bound and had a sock in her mouth when Kurtdere released her from the bindings and placed her in a bed. Her pulse and breathing were weak, he said.
He went to check her on her Monday, July 27, so she could watch the children, and found her dead, lying next to the bed.