Dr. Robert Ferrante

Dr. Robert Ferrante
Crime: Murder

Forty-one-year-old neurologist, Dr. Autumn Klein, wanted a baby. She and her much older husband, Dr. Robert Ferrante, already had a 6-year-old daughter, but she wanted a sibling for her.

I’m sure Dr. Autumn Klein felt her biological clock tick tick ticking away, making the likelihood of another child increasingly less possible.

Dr. Klein may have wanted a second child, but her husband didn’t. Maybe he felt that, at 66, he was too damned old to be raising another child. Or maybe he felt that a baby would compromise their lifestyle.

Dr. Ferrante was a neuro researcher studying Lou Gehrig’s disease at the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Klein was chief of the division of women’s neurology and an assistant professor of neurology, obstetrics and gynecology at UPMC Presbyterian. Undoubtedly the couple had busy professional lives. A baby would complicate things.

Regardless, in 2013 Dr. Klein was more than ready, more than willing to complicate her life with a baby. But every time she tried to discuss getting pregnant again her husband would ignore her or get angry with her. She was becoming more and more displeased with him.

In February 2013 she wrote him an email that read, “I don’t know where things are going to go, and you may not like what you hear, but I think it’s about time we talked.”

I gather they had a talk, and I gather too that Dr. Ferrante made the right noises. His wife thought he was warming up to the idea of a baby. She invested her time and efforts in fertility treatment to increase her chances of getting pregnant.

But Dr. Robert Ferrante was not on warming up to the idea. He didn’t want a baby, and as well he was becoming increasingly suspicious of his wife. He seemed to get it into his thick head that she might be having an affair with a man from Boston. He began searching online topics like “divorce in Pittsburgh” and “does increased vaginal size suggest wife is having sex with another”.

Dr. Ferrante decided to call an end to his troubled marriage. Not by divorce — that’s not what hellbeasts do. What he decided to do was murder his troublesome wife. WTFH!

Dr. Ferrante began Googling cyanide poisoning, its symptoms and its detection. Hmmmm, I wonder what he was up to.

He used his laptop at the lab rather than a computer at home. I guess he sure as hell didn’t want his wife to see what he was looking up.

The doctor’s online search history showed he Googled “detecting potassium cyanide poisoning”, potassium cyanide detection blood urine”, “dialysis in removal of toxins cyanide”, “malice of forethought definition” and “creatine cyanide”.

The good doctor visited pages with titles like “Cyanide poison hard to detect”, “How can you detect potassium cyanide”, “How would you test for potassium cyanide”, “Toxicology reporting” and “How would a coroner detect when someone is killed by cyanide?”

Obviously Dr. Ferrante had decided on cyanide poisoning for his wife, the mother of his child, the brilliant neurologist. To that end, he had to get his hands on the stuff, and figure out a way to get it into her.

On April 15, 2013, Dr. Ferrante instructed his lab assistant to purchase “the best and the purest” cyanide using his corporate credit card. He insisted that the poison be shipped overnight to the lab. The reason he gave for the purchase: to use cyanide in an experiment to kill neurological cells and stimulate Lou Gehrig’s disease in the lab.

The problem with that explanation: there were no experiments planned that would have required the overnight shipment of cyanide. There were no such experiments to be conducted until months later.

Anyway, Dr. Ferrante had his poison. How could he get it into his wife?

The neuro researcher slyly texted his wife the suggestion that she should drink Creatine to enhance her fertility. He had plenty of Creatine in the lab, and he was more than happy to mix up a special fertility-boosting concoction for her.

Dr. Klein texted back, “Will it stimulate egg production too?” Her husband responded with a smiley emoticon.

How devious of the old bastard! The one thing his wife would be 100% sure to drink would be a fertility booster.

Dr. Autumn Klein

Dr. Autumn Klein

I’m sure the poor woman was thrilled with her husband’s newfound “enthusiasm” for a baby. They were planning to go to Laurel Highlands resort on April 18, 2013, just the two of them, and maybe get pregnant. Her parents were going to watch over their daughter.

The romantic trip to the resort never happened, of course. On April 17, 2013, Dr. Autumn Klein collapsed in her kitchen just before midnight. She’d just returned from work, healthy one minute, deathly ill the next.

The woman had, of course, had a drink of her husband’s Creatine concoction.

Dr. Ferrante called 9-1-1. He was appropriately distraught, claiming that he thought his wife was having a stroke. You can actually hear his wife moaning and groaning and gasping for air on the tape, and he is being oh-so-solicitous with his “Honey, sweetheart, are you ok?”

“Sweetheart, sweetheart, I love you very much,” he said to her while on the line. “Please don’t do it, please.” Don’t do what, I wonder. Groan? Moan? Breathe?

Dr. Klein was transported to UPMC Presbyterian, the very place she worked. The medical team there worked frantically to save her life, trying to figure out why she was dying. Dr. Jon Rittenberger and his colleagues were stumped because her collapse “is not typically something that happens to a young healthy person.”

Because of high levels of acid in the dying woman’s blood, Dr. Rittenberger decided to test for cyanide on the off-chance. It turned out to be a brilliant decision — cyanide metabolizes very quickly and can become undetectable within 3 hours after ingestion. If that test hadn’t been done then and there, there would have been no evidence of poisoning.

The morning after Dr. Klein was hospitalized, her parents arrived at the house, having gotten a phone call from their son-in-law. Nobody was home but they went inside to wait.

“We were in the house no more than 15 minutes when Bob came in the front door,” said Lois Klein. “He didn’t see me right away; he was fine. When he saw me, he was faking like he was teary-eyed.”

The worried parents were kept waiting for nearly 11 hours before Dr. Ferrante finally took them to the hospital to see their dying daughter. She was, by then, on life support.

It took a couple of days for Dr. Autumn Klein to die. She passed away on April 20, 2013, leaving her beloved daughter without a mom.

The blood test results arrived after the unfortunate woman died — and they were positive for cyanide.

According to Lois Klein, her son-in-law was opposed to having an autopsy performed on his wife. Lois Klein wanted one. “I wanted to know what happened to my daughter,” she said. “A healthy 41-year-old woman doesn’t come home and fall on the floor and die.”

There was no autopsy, and Dr. Klein’s body was cremated. Based on the blood tests that were ordered shortly after she was admitted to hospital, the medical examiner ruled her death a homicide.

Two weeks after the poor woman died, a homicide investigation was launched. The primary suspect was *shock* Dr. Robert Ferrante.

Fortunately for investigators, Dr. Ferrante had been placed on leave from his job and denied access to his laboratory.

When interviewed by police, Dr. Ferrante told them he’d been downstairs in the kitchen when his wife collapsed. He told them he’d given her Creatine to drink. That was the first version of his story. The stupid ass kept changing it.

Investigators were on the hunt for cyanide. At the good doctor’s lab they found plenty — 3 containers of it. One of the containers was actually leaking and a hazmat crew was needed to clean it up. And doncha know, Dr. Ferrante’s thumb print was found on one of the containers — the container that was missing 8.3 grams of cyanide.

The police also checked out the doctor’s laptop and found all those Google searches about cyanide. They also found a search for how to clear one’s Google search history. Gee, I wonder why the doctor was checking that out.

Investigators interviewed medical personnel who had attended to Dr. Klein. They reported that her husband’s reaction to seeing her so deathly ill was like “bad acting”, and that he began speaking about her in the past tense while she was still being treated by doctors.

On July 24, 2013, Dr. Robert Ferrante was charged with 1st-degree murder. Trouble was, he wasn’t in Pittsburgh or even in Pennsylvania. He was in Florida with his daughter, staying at his sister’s home.

When he learned there was a warrant out for his arrest, the doctor began the journey back to Pittsburgh. He was stopped by West Virginia State Police and taken into custody. He was extradited back to Pennsylvania and charged with criminal homicide.

Dr. Robert Ferrante was arrested and plunked into jail. His daughter was placed in the custody of Lois Klein.

The trial began on October 20, 2014. The prosecution’s argument was he’d murdered his wife because she wanted a second child and because Dr. Ferrante thought she might be having an affair.

The defense’s argument was there was no autopsy, and the prosecution’s case was completely circumstantial. They also argued that the poor woman could have died of a mysterious ailment, or by accidental exposure to cyanide, or even by suicide — pretty much anything except homicide.

Defense attorney William Difenderfer called as his last witness Dr. Robert Ferrante. Ooops. You know how I said the doctor had told police he’d been downstairs in the kitchen and gave his wife Creatine to drink before she collapsed? Well, on the witness stand he said he was upstairs when she came home, and he didn’t know if she drank anything at all, and she’d collapsed after giving him a kiss on the cheek.

The prosecution kinda sorta noticed the various versions he’d told authorities and went for Dr. Ferrante’s jugular in cross examination.

Dr. Robert FerranteOn November 7, 2014, the jury found Dr. Robert Ferrante guilty of 1st-degree murder. Jurors said that his changing story about when his wife collapsed led them to believe he was lying.

“I think he had a year to think about what story he wanted to tell,” said one juror.

Jurors had also been affected by the 9-1-1 call and hearing the victim groaning and gasping for air. “It got you in the gut. It got you in the heart,” said a juror. That it does.

The convicted killer is facing a mandatory sentence of life without parole. The prosecution had declined to pursue the death penalty in this case because they’d found no aggravating circumstances to make it a capital offense. I dunno about that. It seems to me that the suffering that the victim went through, as evidenced by the 9-1-1 tape, is an aggravating circumstance. Still, life in prison is nothing to sneeze at.

I hope that for the rest of his life, Dr. Robert Ferrante will remember how he had it made — a great career, a great reputation, a wonderful daughter and an incredibly smart, accomplished and wonderful wife — and how he threw it all away out of jealousy and selfishness. He deprived his young daughter of both her parents for no good reason at all.

I hope too the evil bastard will think how close he came to getting away with murder. If it hadn’t been for that blood test ordered by Dr. Rittenberger, there would have been no proof his wife had been poisoned. And if he’d erased his computer’s search history, there would have been no proof he’d even considered using cyanide to kill.

RIP, Dr. Autumn Klein. I extend my heartfelt sympathies to her family and friends. The world had been a better place with her in it.

Daily Mail article
Huffington Post article
WPXI News article
ABC News article
News.Yahoo.com article
Triblive.com article
JimFisherTrueCrime.blogspot.ca article

12 Responses to Dr. Robert Ferrante

  1. moodymagic says:

    Thank goodness for the quick thinking for the blood tests. Well this was one selfish bastard now his daughter has neither parents. Why not just divorce? I don’t get it.

    • Boston scientist says:

      It is very easy to understand, actually. It was a false positive, and she never died of cyanide poisoning. He loved his wife. If you look closely at the facts, then the prosecution case does not hold water.

      • Bengalpuss. says:

        What facts are they? Having pure cyanide shipped overnight? Or the searches for how to detect cyanide? What about this one, I gave her a drink of creatine then changing it to “I was upstairs when she collapsed” I take it your a very deluded friend of this murderer? So come back with some facts that’ll make me believe you or shut the Fuck up you idiot.

  2. 2cute says:

    I feel horrible for the little girl who has lost her mother and now knows her father made that happen. I hope she gets a whole lot of love and care and support because that’s a terrible burden on a child.

  3. bulldoggy says:

    Cleo your site has been down a lot. Is your IT guy being bad again? That said, I just can’t figure out how the doctor here could figure his wife deserved to die. Over a baby or maybe a boyfriend? Stupid. Divorce is costly but it isn’t illegal. Now nobody will remember what a great researcher he was but they will remember he poisoned his wife. So senseless.

    • cleo says:

      Bulldoggy, it’s not the IT guy’s fault. Apparently there are issues with the server my site is parked on. Sorry my site’s been down so much.

  4. Awesomeblossom says:

    I sure as hell hope the poor woman never realized before she died that her husband had poisoned her. Best she died thinking she was loved. Evil bastard to kill the mother of his very young daughter. Totally completely selfish to not even care about his child.

  5. Passingthru says:

    There was an autopsy performed: http://triblive.com/news/allegheny/7028644-74/ferrante-klein-case#axzz3JrW7zj6j

    An even bigger issue for Ferrante was probably that his wife’s career was taking off while he was pretty much a never was.

  6. Bengalpuss says:

    Considering he was a doctor he sure was a thick cunt, thick as pig shit, internet history sending texts making up a concoction for her to drink and ordering the cyanide, the slack twat he is, which is a good job. And that was quick thinking from the doctor who ordered the blood tests, otherwise doctor death would of gotten away with murder. I bet the thick cunt is kicking himself in his cell, because instead of being content with what he had, a family a good job, good wife, he’s now lost everything through his vindictive selfishness. I hope bubba gives him a stretched arsehole, like he thought his wife’s vagina was, fucking idiot his wife’s vagina probably felt bigger because his knob had shrunken.

  7. Boston scientist says:

    The cyanide was a false positive. The Conway method generates a false positive with molecules that are produced during heart and kidney failure. Autumn Klein never exhibited cyanide poisoning symptoms. She had no cyanosis, no blackened stomach and no lng frothing. Also, she did not die quickly and spasmodically. Earlier that day, according to her texts, she had a migraine and an aura, typical symptoms of impending death by anorexia-induced heart attack. The creatine she was taking sent her over the edge, since one of its metabolites is formaldehyde/formate. Robert Ferrante is a wrongfully convicted man who loved his wife. The jury’s reasons for convicting him are bogus. He did not “change his story.” Instead, what changed was other people’s recollections of what he said. The jury were scientifically illiterate but the fault here really rests with the medical examiner, Karl Williams. He should have realized the cyanide reading made no sense. It showed a lethal level ~100 half-lives after Autumn supposedly ingested cyanide. Even if she did consume it, it would be all gone by metabolism within a few hours. The fact that such a large amount was “measured” so late in her treatment should have been a red flag indicating a false positive. This is one of six cyanide false positives that I have since found, including Urooj Khan.

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