A Greenfield man told police he struck his wife in the head with a mallet and attempted to suffocate her, before finally killing her with a pick-ax.
Bruce Cook, 62, has been charged with homicide in the death of Lois Cook, 57.
Officers from the city's Zone 4 station in Squirrel Hill were called to 4012 Windsor St. about 5:30 p.m. Wednesday after a coworker of Mrs. Cook became alarmed because she had missed an important meeting at work that was not characteristic of her.
When police arrived, they spotted Mr. Cook walking up stairs inside the home.
He told police he didn't know where his wife and that, "I haven't seen her for three days, you can check the house," according to a criminal complaint.
Officer Igor Boyko spotted signs of blood and footprints on the floor and followed them to the basement, where police discovered Ms. Cook's body underneath a tarp.
Mr. Cook told homicide detectives he had been in the basement several times over the last three days, noticed the tarp and had recently cleaned the steps with a garden hose. Detectives said they spotted several possible blood stains that had not been washed away and a preliminary test found that they were from human blood.
The city bomb squad was also called to the scene after an officer spotted a spray can with PVC tubing, wires and a switch, according to the complaint. Bomb tech Carlos Schrader called the device "a very good facsimile of a bomb" but said it lacked some parts needed for detonation, according to the complaint.
Mr. Cook was arraigned Thursday on charges of abuse of a corpse, tampering with evidence and possessing a weapon of mass destruction and taken to the Allegheny County Jail.
He then agreed to an interview without a lawyer in which he told police he killed his wife, according to court documents.
Mr. Cook told police that after striking his wife with a mallet several times, she fell to the floor, and he attempted to suffocate her with a garbage bag because she was still alive.
When she ripped open the bag, he struck her in the neck with a pick-ax, killing her.
He told police he covered her body with cedar chips, because she "smelled like an alligator."
The cause of Mrs. Cook's death was sharp and blunt force trauma to the head and neck, and the manner is homicide.
Mr. Cook awaited arraignment on the homicide charge Thursday night.
Liz Navratil: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1438. Twitter: @LizNavratil. Lexi Belculfine: email@example.com or 412-263-1878. Twitter: @Lexi Belculfine. First Published May 2, 2013 2:30 PM