Frank Buschauer charged with wife's murder in South Barrington home

April 26, 2013 (CHICAGO)

A man who now lives in Wisconsin is accused of drowning his wife in the bathtub of their suburban Chicago home.

The suspect is the victim's husband and the murder took place in their south Barrington home.

Sixty-four-year-old Frank Buschauer, a retired chemical engineer, is now being held without bond 13 years after he told neighbors his wife had a seizure and died in the couple's bathtub.

On the well-manicured block where the alleged murder took place, there is disbelief.

"My reaction is total shock, absolute total shock," said neighbor Bill Mayer.

Mayer lived next door to Frank Buschauer in 2000 and still remembers Buschauer telling of his wife's death.

"He was broken," Mayer said. "He was absolutely a broken man. I felt so sorry for the guy."

But authorities say it was all an act.

Buschauer, police say, had drowned his wife, 47-year-old Cynthia Hrisco in the couple's bathtub following a long-standing dispute over poor construction work that Buschauer's cousin had done on the house.

"It appears that there was some marital discord in regards to the home and the construction of the home," said Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez.

The initial investigation found injuries to Hrisco's neck, face, and body, and Buschauer allegedly told police it was possible he killed his wife but couldn't remember.

But because an autopsy could not determine how Hrisco had drowned, police in 2000 declined to pursue charges.

"I think it all stuck in our heads of the people that were there, and I think we all knew something was wrong and wanted to pursue it," said Detective Bryant Haniszewski, Barrington Police Department.

So in 2010, the state's attorney's office conducted a cold case review and commissioned two forensics experts to examine the tub and the injuries on Hrisco's body.

"And the conclusion of both of our reconstruction experts was that these injuries were caused, and her death was caused, by a homicidal drowning," said Cook County Assistant State's Attorney Maria McCarthy.

Buschauer was arrested Wednesday in Pell Lake, Wisconsin, where he lives in a home with the couple's now 14-year-old son.

He's allegedly implicated himself in statements.

"We are pleased that we now have the evidence that is required to bring charges in this case and hopefully bring some measure of justice for Cynthia Hrisco and her family,'" Alvarez said.

There are obvious parallels to the Drew Peterson-Kathleen Savio case, which also involved charges being brought years after a bathtub drowning. Authorities said the high-profile case played no role in the decision to re-examine this case.

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