City News

Man who blew up Madison home to cover up murdering wife gets $1 million bail

A judge set a $1 million price tag on bail for 59-year-old Steven Pirus, who told police he intentionally caused his Madison home to explode after shooting his wife in the head.

Image By: Courtesy of Dane County Sheriff's Office

A man who admitted to shooting his wife and intentionally blowing up their Madison home last week in an attempt to cover up the homicide was booked on $1 million bail Tuesday at a hearing.

Following further investigations into the murder and explosion by state officials, law enforcement and firefighters, Steven D. Pirus will likely face counts of first-degree intentional homicide, arson and first-degree reckless homicide when he is formally charged later this week.

Since those charges are still tentative, public defender David Klauser requested a more “reasonable” bail for Pirus. But noting the way the defendant attempted to cover up the crime, Dane County Court Commissioner Brian Asmus kept a $1 million price tag on his bail.

“He's willing to go to the extreme of blowing up the house, as alleged by attorney Hart, to avoid detection of the first-degree intentional homicide, what's he willing to do to avoid showing up in court?" Asmus said, according to the State Journal.

Pirus told authorities he shot his 59-year-old wife in the head about a month before he exploded their home on the 7900 block of Stratton Way last Wednesday, according to a probable cause affidavit obtained by the Wisconsin State Journal. But investigators believe Lee Anne Pirus could have been dead for even longer, Madison Police Department Police Chief Mike Koval said at a press conference over the weekend.

The home, located on the Southwest side of Madison, exploded around 2 p.m. Thursday. Pirus told police he opened a gas line from a dryer to initiate the blast. After two days of rummaging through the giant pit of rubble left behind, authorities found Mrs. Pirus’ body. No one else was hurt in the explosion.

It is still unclear what motivated Pirus to shoot his wife of 20 years. While he said in the affidavit that Mrs. Pirus asked him to kill her, MPD Police Chief Mike Koval said investigators hadn’t ruled out other possible motivators, such as financial reasons or extramarital affairs.

The District Attorney’s office will likely formally charge Pirus Thursday.

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