Robert Ferrante, a professor of neurological surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, was charged on Thursday with a single count of criminal homicide in connection with the death of his wife, Autumn Klein, in April. An article online in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette points to an affidavit stating that Klein, a neurologist, had a cyanide level that "was found to be in the lethal range."
Both were prominent scientists. Ferrante studied amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). His wife, an expert in the treatment of women with neurological diseases, was the chief of the division of women's neurology at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC). In an obituary published online in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in April, Robert Friedlander, chairman of neurological surgery at UPMC, called her a "rising star" and her death "an irreplaceable loss." She was 41.
As of 5:00 p.m., Ferrante's Web pages had been removed from the university's site, but a cached version of one was still available.
Authorities say that Ferrante poisoned Klein by mixing cyanide with creatine, CBSNews reports. According to Ferrante's online biography, his work "has provided the basis for human trials" using creatine. Klein consumed the drink because Ferrante told her it would help them conceive a child. Police said that Ferrante had purchased cyanide with a university credit card days before and had it shipped to his lab overnight, and that he had enlisted the assistance of a lab member in buying the cyanide.
According to the article online in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the affidavit includes statements from witnesses who paint a picture of a troubled marriage. One witness described Ferrante as having a "controlling nature." According to the report, Ferrante thought that his wife was having an affair and confronted her about it in the days leading up to her death. Klein reportedly told a friend in February that she was making plans to leave Ferrante.
Ferrante was arrested in West Virginia as he returned from visiting his sister in Florida. He awaits extradition to Pittsburgh. "He is adamant that he is innocent. I believe him and I'm sure it'll be a hell of a trial," defense attorney William Difenderfer tells CBSNews.