CUMBERLAND – Peter J. Pytka II, the man charged with murdering his wife in their Titus Street home on Dec. 20, was found dead in his jail cell at the Adult Correctional Institutions Thursday, the victim of an apparent suicide.
Corrections spokeswoman Tracey Zeckhausen said his cellmate at the ACI's Intake Service Center found Pytka in the top bunk about 7:50 a.m., as prisoners were getting ready for breakfast. The cellmate alerted prison authorities, telling them Pytka appeared to be dead.
Zeckhausen said Pytka was last seen alive during a “standing count” of inmates the previous evening at 9 o'clock. There were other head counts during the night, but Pytka wouldn't have been required to stand for them, so no one would have noticed anything unusual, she said.
Pytka, 40, had been held at the ACI on a charge of murder since Dec. 21. Police say he beat and stabbed his 38-year-old wife Tracey-Ann, several weeks after she threw him out of their home. Prosecutors said in court that a witness saw Pytka and his wife involved in a violent altercation on their lawn shortly before their 14-year-old son came home to discover his mother's body in a pool of blood, inside the house.
Pawtucket police arrested Pytka later that afternoon sitting in his wife's car, parked beside the Blackstone River. Disheveled and bloody, Pytka was in the car with a 45-pound weight attached to a handcuff and a photograph of his wife, police say.
Zeckhausen would not comment on the manner of death or say whether Pytka was on suicide watch, citing medical confidentiality laws.
“As is true of all new commitments, Mr. Pytka was evaluated by our clinical staff who followed up as needed,” she said.
The body was turned over to the state medical examiner for autopsy. Zeckhausen said the state police are also conducting an investigation.
The Pytkas had three children, ages 6 and 8, with a son in high school. Friends and neighbors said theirs was a troubled marriage, however, and Tracey-Ann ordered her husband to leave their Valley Falls bungalow about three weeks before the homicide.
In addition to murder, Zeckhausen said Pytka was held on one count of manual delivery of a controlled substance, a charge police lodged against him when, during the murder investigation, they discovered a pot farm in the house.
Pytka was held at the ACI previously for one day in April 1990 after he was arrested for driving a recreational vehicle under the influence of alcohol and malicious destruction of property, Zeckhausen said.