Jul 26, 2013 04:15 AM EDT
Pittsburgh Medical Researcher Arrested For Fatally Poisoning His Wife
Dr. Robert Ferrante, a 64-year-old medical researcher at the University of Pittsburgh has been charged with one count of criminal homicide in the death of his wife, Dr. Autumn Klein (41), a neurologist at the university's medical school.
On Thursday, West Virginia State Police arrested Ferrante on Interstate 77 near Beckley, West Virginia.
John Andrew Fedele, a school spokesperson, said that Ferrante has been placed on immediate and indefinite leave due to the charges. He has also lost access to the lab.
"Because the defendant is facing a criminal homicide charge and has the financial means to travel anywhere, a national law enforcement bulletin was broadcast concerning this defendant," said Mike Manko, a spokesman for the Allegheny County DA.
"This evening our office was notified by the West Virginia State Police that they had located the defendant and his vehicle near Beckley, W.Va., and shortly thereafter he was taken into custody. Our office will be working with prosecutors in West Virginia to extradite the defendant in a timely fashion."
According to a police complaint, Ferrante allegedly mixed cyanide in her creatine drink on April 17. Just hours before Klein fell ill, the couple discussed about how the supplement could help them conceive a child.
"Will it stimulate egg production too?" Klein asked her husband. He responded with a smile.
Ferrante, a leading researcher on Lou Gehrig's disease, denied any wrongdoing in his wife's death.
Klein, chief of women's neurology at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, died April 20 after suddenly falling ill on April 17 at her home in Pittsburgh's Oakland neighbourhood. Ferrante reported that his wife suffered a sudden, unknown medical emergency.
When Klein's blood samples showed high levels of acid, as a precautionary measure, the county medical examiner conducted tests for cyanide. Those tests confirmed a lethal level of cyanide and the toxicology experts hence declared her death as a homicide.
The criminal complaint said that when Allegheny County paramedics responded to Klein's medical emergency on April 17, they noticed a glass vial near a reseal able, plastic bag containing a white substance that Ferrante told them was creatine.
On April 15, two days before Klein collapsed; Ferrante allegedly purchased more than a half pound of cyanide using a university credit card even though he did not have any active projects that involved the chemical.
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