Seized belongings of medical researcher Ferrante listed

Researcher arrested in wife's cyanide death


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A search warrant application unsealed Monday provided new detail about the items a University of Pittsburgh medical researcher was carrying when he was arrested in his wife's cyanide poisoning death.

Allegheny County district attorney's Detective Lyle Graber sought in September to obtain from West Virginia State Police three items they seized when they stopped Robert Ferrante, 65, on Interstate 77 near Beckley in July.

Mr. Ferrante faces one count of homicide in the April death of his wife, Autumn Klein, who collapsed in the couple's Oakland home April 17 and died in UPMC Presbyterian three days later.

Detective Graber sought Mr. Ferrante's black iPhone 5, one set of keys and a Florida driver's license Mr. Ferrante had obtained.

The detective wrote that the driver's license could provide investigators with information "necessary to indicate Ferrante's intention of permanently changing his residency from Pennsylvania to Florida prior to his arrest."

He also wrote that a West Virginia State Police sergeant said that among the keys Mr. Ferrante carried was "at least one which appeared to be a safety deposit box key."

Investigators said in previously unsealed documents that Mr. Ferrante obtained two safety deposit boxes in the weeks after his wife's death -- one of which he placed $30,000 inside and listed his adult daughter from another marriage as an owner.

Included with the warrant application unsealed Monday was a nine-page report from the West Virginia State Police that listed additional items they found when they stopped Mr. Ferrante. Most was cash, but police said they also found, among other belongings, a silver trinket with a clover leaf, several debit or credit cards and Klein's dental insurance card.

Pittsburgh police wrote in an affidavit of probable cause that Mr. Ferrante asked a colleague to purchase cyanide two days before his wife, a 41-year-old physician at UPMC, collapsed and have it shipped overnight. They wrote that paramedics remembered seeing a bag with a white substance in the home when they came to treat Klein.

Mr. Ferrante, police wrote, worried his wife might have been having an affair. She told at least one friend two months before her death of her husband's allegations and that she planned to leave him, according to the affidavit.

Mr. Ferrante's attorney, William Difenderfer, said before a judge imposed a gag order on the case that his client was not attempting to run to Florida but was instead trying to help his daughter begin a life with relatives down there. He said Mr. Ferrante was driving back to Pennsylvania to surrender when police stopped him.


Liz Navratil: lnavratil@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1438 or on Twitter @LizNavratil.


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