Skip to main content

Professor accused of poisoning wife with cyanide waives extradition

From John Berman and Marlei Martinez, CNN
updated 5:29 PM EDT, Mon July 29, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Robert Ferrante is expected to be moved Tuesday
  • The cause of his wife's death is cyanide poisoning
  • "He's anxious to defend himself," his lawyer says

(CNN) -- A University of Pittsburgh research professor waived extradition Monday during a hearing in West Virginia as authorities seek his return to Pennsylvania, where he's accused of killing his wife with a lethal dose of cyanide.

Robert Ferrante was not expected to fight extradition.

"He's anxious to defend himself, have his day in court, prove his innocence," said Ferrante's defense attorney William Difenderfer.

Pennsylvania police have 10 days to pick him up, said assistant prosecutor Andy Dimlich.

According to Mike Manko, spokesman for the Allegheny County district attorney's office, police will transport Ferrante from West Virginia to the Allegheny County Jail on Tuesday.

Ferrante is accused of killing Autumn Klein, a 41-year-old accomplished Pittsburgh doctor. She was the former head of women's neurology at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

Ferrante is a researcher and professor of neurological surgery at the University of Pittsburgh.

Houston doctor charged with poisoning fellow doctor and lover

As part of his position there, Ferrante managed a laboratory where he conducts trials of various drugs and chemicals, according to a criminal complaint.

Professor arrested in wife's death

Text messages between the couple were found on April 17, the day Klein fell ill, the complaint said. The exchange included Ferrante suggesting creatine to Klein in hopes of stimulating egg production.

The complaint also alleges that a day earlier, Ferrante had placed an order for an "overnight delivery of cyanide."

Investigators allege that Ferrante laced the creatine with cyanide.

Cyanide is a naturally occurring toxic substance that can be found in seeds of different plants. It is widely distributed throughout research laboratories as a chemical used in scientific experiments.

Cyanide interferes with the ability of the body to use oxygen to produce energy, which can lead to rapid death.

On April 17, Allegheny County 911 dispatch received a call from Ferrante requesting medical assistance for his wife, who he said was possibly having a stroke, the complaint read. He described her condition as "conscious and breathing, but not alert."

Watch: FBI investigates doctor's cyanide death

When paramedics arrived, they found the victim on the floor of the kitchen with a plastic bag containing creatine.

She died April 20.

According to Karl Williams, chief medical examiner of Allegheny County, there is no connection between creatine and fertility. Creatine is a supplement that bodybuilders use to increase body mass, Williams said.

"The amazing amount of subpoenas of investigation that went in to determining in fact that it was a homicide. That's what took so long," Williams said.

Ferrante's arrest Thursday ended a nationwide manhunt. Officials said West Virginia State Police apprehended him after his car was stopped while heading north on Interstate 77 near Beckley, West Virginia.

"He was relatively quiet," said State Police Sgt. William Tupper. "He knew there were warrants for him. Said he was en route back to Pittsburgh."

Ferrante has been placed on immediate and indefinite leave from his university, according to school spokesman John Andrew Fedele.

Sole and legal custody of Ferrante's child has been placed with the maternal grandparents, according to a statement form the district attorney's office.

His financial assets have also been frozen.

In poisoning emergencies, who will answer your call?

CNN's Erinn Cawthon and Dominique Debucquoy-Dodley contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT