A retired Texas businessman was charged with attempted murder Tuesday for allegedly pouring gasoline on his wife at an East Side storage locker then igniting the gas with a lighter.
After helping put out a fire that briefly went up her arms and legs, Andrew D. Spear, 59, told Mary Spear that the storage locker, where Spear had his wood shop, would be the last place she would see, according to a criminal complaint filed in Dane County Circuit Court.
"You're gonna die in here and nobody will never know," he told her, according to the complaint. "They'll never find your body."
The alleged incident happened after days in which Andrew Spear was alternately despondent and threatening over his belief that his wife was having an affair with her boss, state Department of Health Services Secretary Dennis Smith, according to the complaint.
Mary Spear, who told police that Smith is a longtime friend, is the chief legal counsel for DHS. According to the complaint, she denied to her husband the affair but later told him that she loved him and was sorry that she had lied to him.
In addition to attempted first-degree intentional homicide, Andrew Spear was charged with three counts of misdemeanor battery, two counts of disorderly conduct and one count of false imprisonment for the Aug. 16 incident, which allegedly happened at the storage locker at 1106 O'Neill Ave.
Spear, who was later arrested on Interstate 90-94 in Juneau County, was jailed on $500,000 bail after appearing in court on Tuesday. His lawyer, Brian Brophy, told Dane County Court Commissioner Todd Meurer that Spear disputes many of the allegations.
"Obviously, his wife's affair may have led to some bad behavior," Brophy said, adding that some of the allegations are false, however.
Deputy District Attorney Michelle Viste told Meurer that even after taking her back to their North Side condo from the storage locker, Andrew Spear tried to keep his wife from leaving. She had hastily grabbed some belongings to get away from him but was only able to get away after two neighbors intervened, Viste said.
The couple came to Madison from Dallas in February after Spear was appointed at DHS.
DHS spokeswoman Stephanie Smiley said the department had no comment. Smith did not respond to phone and email messages.
According to the complaint:
Mary Spear told police that early on Aug. 9 her husband confronted her about an email exchange with Smith, demanding to know if she was having an affair with him. Later that morning he had her come to his wood shop where he told her "he would ruin me or I could leave with nothing," she told police. He told her to move out of their condo.
But in the days that followed, he drove her to and from work and had her tell Smith she would no longer be working long hours as before. She told Smith she would resign if the situation made him feel uncomfortable, she told police.
On Aug. 16, Andrew Spear picked up his wife from work and hit her as he drove them to the storage locker, where he continued to hit her. He also smashed her cellphones and told her he would burn her and bury her body.
Andrew Spear told her later, after she had tried to run toward the door, that she wasn't leaving there alive, she told police.
But then he said, "I can't kill you. I hate you, but I love you. I can't kill you."