What started as an accident investigation has now become a murder case.
Emergency responders in Madison, Wisconsin converged on the scene of a house explosion Wednesday at the home of Steven D. Pirus, 59, and his wife, Lee Anne Pirus, age 50. However, ABC affiliate WISN reports the incident was a way for Steven to cover up Lee Anne’s murder, which investigators say may have happened weeks before, if not longer.
The explosion itself was so great, it decimated the Pirus’ house and damaged others nearby, resulting in the displacement of neighbors from at least eight homes, according to People magazine.
While sifting through the wreckage, investigators found Lee Anne’s body. However, following an autopsy, the Dane County Medical Examiner determined she didn’t die from injuries sustained in the explosion, but from “homicidal firearm trauma.” Not only that, he says the victim had been dead for weeks, possibly months.
Police believe Steven Pirus rigged the natural gas lines inside his house to be ignited, causing the explosion. Two people were injured in the blast, including a firefighter, and five pets were killed as well, according to CBS News.
The Pirus’ had been experiencing financial difficulties, according to NBC affiliate WMTV, however, police would not say whether or not that was one of the motive’s for the crime.
In an interview with WISC-TV, classmate Mike Weichbrod remembered Lee Anne as “a very happy person in high school, always smiling.”
According to police, Steven Pirus is being charged with first-degree intentional homicide, arson and reckless endangerment. The Pirus’ had been married for 20 years and bought their house in 2005.