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Crime

Wisconsin Husband Allegedly Kills Wife, Then Blows Up His House to Cover Up Murder

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The husband of a woman whose body was found Friday amid the rubble of a home explosion in Madison, Wisconsin, was arrested for allegedly fatally shooting her and then blowing up the house to cover up the killing, PEOPLE confirms.

On Saturday night, police arrested Steven D. Pirus, 59, who has been jailed on suspicion of first-degree intentional homicide, arson of buildings and damage of property by explosives and first-degree recklessly endangering safety, Madison Police Department Public Information Officer Joel Despain said in a statement.

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The victim was identified as Lee Anne Pirus, 50, who investigators believe could have been fatally shot “weeks, if not months ago,” Chief Mike Koval said at a press conference on Sunday, the Wisconsin State Journal reports.

“Steven Pirus shot and killed Lee Anne,” Koval alleged at the news conference. “Steven intentionally blew up this house. He’s as much as admitted it over the course of several days of conversations.”

Lee Anne Pirus
Madison Police Department

 

Steven Pirus
Madison Police Department

Authorities are still trying to determine a motive, Koval  said.

“I don’t want to rule out financials,” he added. “I don’t want to rule out extra-marital issues. I don’t want to rule out anything. The suspect himself, soon to be a defendant himself, has vacillated between his motives.”

The couple’s home exploded on Wednesday afternoon, say police. The blast engulfed the home in massive flames before leveling it. The explosion also displaced residents from eight neighboring homes, according to local news station WSAW.

Pirus is accused of intentionally causing the explosion by manipulating the home’s natural gas system, all while his wife’s body was inside, Despain said in the statement.

He was charged with first-degree recklessly endangering safety because there were “many neighbors in the area at the time of the explosion and their lives were placed at risk,” Koval said at the news conference.

On Friday, authorities searching the blast site found Lee Anne Pirus’s body, say police.

Her autopsy showed that her death was the caused by “homicidal firearm trauma” and not by injuries sustained in the explosion and subsequent fire, according to the medical examiner’s office.

Lee Anne Pirus had been dead “conservatively” for weeks, Koval said. But no missing persons report had been filed with the Madison Police Department — “I would concede that’s unusual,” Koval said.

Several neighbors told the State Journal they had not seen Lee Anne Pirus in weeks.

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The couple, who’d been married for more than 20 years, had no children together, Koval said. They moved into their two-story house in 2005.