Police: husband shot, killed wife -- intentionally blew up Madis

MADISON (WKOW)  -- Police Chief Mike Koval says he expects Steven Pirus to claim his wife asked him to kill her. Pirus is expected to be in court today to face charges related to the death of his wife, Lea Anne.

Koval spoke with 27 News Monday morning about the case. Steven Pirus, 59, is in custody. Koval says he shot and killed Lee Ann Pirus weeks or months before he staged the home to blow up last week.

The chief says his investigators will start looking into what prompted Pirus to kill his wife.

"Was it money, was it extra marital affairs? What exactly was going on in the dynamics of this couple?" Koval told 27 News. "[The suspect is] probably going to allege that the wife asked him to do what she couldn't do for herself, but obviously we're trying to nail down and say that's ridiculous because there's nothing to suggest she wanted to take her life."

A criminal complaint would show more details about how and why Pirus set the fire, which would be released if he's charged. Pirus is cooperating with the investigation, according to Chief Koval. There has not been any previous history of domestic violence between the couple, but investigators will be looking into their relationship.

Lee Ann Pirus was a homemaker and didn't have a lot of connections in the community, which is why her death went unnoticed for several weeks, according to Koval. 


UPDATE (WKOW) -- Madison's police chief says the husband of the woman found in the rubble from a home explosion in Madison shot and killed her and then intentionally blew up the house.

Chief Mike Koval says 59-year-old Steven Pirus is now in custody. Koval says he shot and killed Lee Ann Pirus and that Lee Ann's body remained in the home at 7806 Stratton Way "for weeks, if not months" before the explosion.

Steven Pirus is now in the Dane County Jail. Koval says he is expected to face charges of first degree intentional homicide, arson and recklessly endangering safety.  

The police chief says the reckless endangerment charges were added because there were many neighbors in the area at the time of the explosion. 

"It was a hellacious explosion in a densely populated neighborhood.  We know at least two homes suffered property damage, not to mention how many people would have been home at the time.:

A statement from the Dane County Medical Examiner's office Sunday afternoon said Lee Anne died from being shot -- not from the explosion or fire. The police chief didn't say Sunday where or how many times the victim had been shot.  

Chief Koval didn't give a motive for Steven Pirus' alleged actions. He said part of the on-going investigation is checking into the history of the couple's relationship.  They were married for 20 years and reportedly built the house together. 

He additionally says no one ever reported Lee Anne missing.  "There was no formal missing persons report ever filed with MPD."  The chief only speculated about why no one noticed the victim hadn't been seen, citing societal distractions and people being busy with their lives. He did remark that there were various calls for service to the home.  

As for the explosion, Madison Fire Chief Steven Davis said it's evident natural gas was involved and that the home's system was manipulated.  He read a statement at the news conference:

"After an exhaustive search of the property at 7806 Stratton Way, Madison Fire Investigators, along with the Madison Police Department, the State Fire Marshal’s Office, our local ATF agent, MG&E, and the Wisconsin State Patrol have recovered enough evidence to conclude that the explosion that occurred Wednesday afternoon was intentional."

The fire chief also stressed that MG&E tested the neighborhood for natural gas several times and that it is safe for people who live there.

Madison Fire Department Spokeswoman Cynthia Schuster tells Channel 27 News several animals also perished in the house explosion and fire. She said in an e-mail Sunday:

"We did recover three deceased dogs and two deceased cats from the home. There was one dog running around when firefighters arrived (and when I arrived). It was eventually captured and taken to a veterinary hospital for minor burns."  

At the news conference, Chief Davis also said the fire department's forensics investigation task force is still sifting through the remaining small debris. The investigators hope to have that process finished within the next 24 to 36 hours.

Meanwhile, officials opened up both sides of High Point Road, which had been shut down since the explosion last Wednesday. However, Chief Davis asks the public to use the road "only out of necessity" in the coming weeks, both to be respectful to the neighbors in the area and also to given investigators plenty of access to the scene as they could still be at the explosion site for several days. 

The death remains under investigation by the City of Madison Police and Fire Departments, the Wisconsin Department of Justice Office of the State Fire Marshall, the ATF the Dane County Medical Examiner.


For more on this story: http://www.wkow.com/story/36385972/2017/09/17/victims-name-released-in-stratton-way-house-explosion

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