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Man charged in wife's South Barrington drowning death

Published: Friday, April 26, 2013 1:15 p.m. CDT • Updated: Saturday, April 27, 2013 12:25 a.m. CDT

CHICAGO – A retired engineer was charged Friday with first-degree murder in the death of his wife – 13 years after she drowned in the bathtub of the couple’s home in suburban Chicago.

Frank Buschauer, 64, who was arrested near his home in Pell Lake, Wis. appeared in a Cook County courtroom in Rolling Meadows on Friday, where a judge ordered him held without bail, according to a news release from the county’s state’s attorney’s office.

Buschauer is charged in the Feb. 28, 2000 death of 47-year-old Cynthia Hrisco in the couple’s home in South Barrington. According to prosecutors, after calling 911 to report that his wife had drowned in the tub he told police that it was possible that he killed her but that he could not remember doing so.

At the time, the two had been married for about three years and were living in the South Barrington house with their 13-month-old child.

An investigation revealed that the woman had hemorrhages to her neck, scalp and left eye and abrasions to her face and other parts of her body. The Cook County Medical Examiner’s office concluded that she did drown, but the manner of death was labeled undetermined.

In 2010, Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez’s office started to review the case. Scientific tests and a “forensic re-enactment in the tub in which the woman died led the medical examiner’s office to conclude that Hrisco was forcibly submerged in the tub.

After his arrest, Buschauer again told authorities that while his wife’s death could have been an accident or suicide, it was a possibility that he killed her, and admitted that the two had argued over a construction project and that he had put his hands on her throat and threatened to kill her, according to the release.

In the release, Alvarez’s office said that the couple had been arguing about a major construction project at their house and that investigators think that Hrisco wanted to sue Buschauer’s cousin who built the house but that Buschauer “refused to do so, believing it would send his cousin into bankruptcy.”

Prosecutors allege that things became so strained between the two that Hrisco had told friend shortly before her death that she was afraid of Buschauer and that “they no longer lived together as husband and wife.”

The state’s attorney’s office said that Buschauer was represented at Friday’s hearing by the county’s public defender’s office. The office did not immediately return a call from The Associated Press for comment.

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