(SEATTLE) — Six years after the disappearance and death of his wife Nicole, Martin David Pietz has been arrested in Washington state and charged with second-degree murder.
Nicole Pietz, 33, was reported missing by her husband on Jan. 28, 2006, after she failed to show up to a dinner they had planned with friends. Her body was found a week later by a hiker in a wooded area outside of Lynnwood, Wash.
The victim’s mother, Gael Schneider, told ABC News affiliate KOMO on Thursday that news of the arrest brought her tremendous relief.
“I can’t even tell you, I’m so elated,” she said. “My stomach was just like it has bees in it. And (I was) thanking God over and over and over for finally granting this prayer to me.”
Schneider said spending the last five years knowing her daughter’s killer was roaming free has been “absolute hell.”
“I miss her every day. Every day that goes by, I think this murderer is enjoying his life, and Nicci’s gone,” she said. “I don’t think a day has gone by that I haven’t cried at some point during the day.”
Schneider said she had suspected Pietz all along.
“I knew that it couldn’t have been anybody but him,” she said, adding her son-in-law never had much to say about his wife’s death. “Right after (she disappeared), he said, ‘We weren’t fighting or nothing.'”
Pietz is being held on $1 million bail in King County.
According to a statement of probable cause filed by King County Sheriff’s officers, police suspected Pietz of the murder almost immediately. Pietz failed a lie detector test in the first days of the investigation, and then refused to undergo a second lie detector test and instead hired a lawyer.
Police also found Pietz’s statements to police to be misleading. He told police that on Friday night, Jan. 27, he arrived home from work around midnight and briefly said goodnight to his wife, who was already sleeping. On Saturday morning, he left for work at 8:30 a.m. without speaking to Nicole, and then did not speak to her again, he said.
Pietz told police that he went directly from work to the planned dinner with friends on Saturday night, but his wife never arrived. He then called police.
But according to police, Pietz’s story didn’t make sense. A receipt found in Nicole’s car showed that she had purchased a taco dinner around 6 p.m. on Friday night. When her body was found, the food was undigested, which forensic examiners said showed she had been killed within six hours of ingesting the food.
Police said that Nicole, then, was killed around midnight on Friday.
Phone records also show that Pietz tried to contact his wife only once after reporting her missing — on Saturday night after she did not show up for dinner. Nicole’s phone was activated once Saturday morning from Pietz’s workplace, the document said.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Seth Fiegerman, CNN
Ivaylo Vezenkov, CNN
Eli Watkins, CNN
Joe Sterling and Darran Simon, CNN