Cass Co. man confesses to murdering wife, friend responds to charges

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Wayne Twp., Mich. The greater Dowagiac community is still coming to terms with Tuesday night's murder of 42-year-old Laura Stineback, who investigators say was strangled and shot to death by her husband, Terry Stineback.

During an arraignment Wednesday, Cass County Prosecutor Victor Fitz testified that Terry Stineback, 44, admitted to killing his wife Tuesday night in their Wayne Twp. home.

Stineback could face up to life in prison for charges that include open murder, assault with intent to kill and a felony firearm charge.

Investigators say a "verbal/physical argument" between the couple escalated through the use of deadly force.

The couple's 9-year-old daughter witnessed her father choking her mother in the basement kitchen of the home as the girl "watched in terror."

Investigators said she pleaded for him to stop and was sent upstairs.

"Then, like an executioner, he forced his wife upstairs to what was to be her death chamber," Fitz told the court.

Investigators say Laura Stineback was shot three times in the back. The bullets pierced her heart, lung, diaphragm and kidney. An official autopsy is being performed at Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids.

Life-long friend Scott Knapp said the news came as a total shock.

"Something in his head must have snapped," Knapp said. "That's the only thing I can see, because Terry was not the person to be harmful to anybody. I'm devastated, I really am."

The murder, Prosecutor Victor Fitz said, was planned.

"I note that there is also evidence of premeditation and deliberation prior to the killing," he said in court. "Those things are considerable."

Knapp described his friend as a loyal, loving father who worked hard at his job as a plow driver for the Michigan Department of Transportation.

"I don't know what to really say about the situation. I can't believe he would do something like this," Knapp said.

Stineback was denied bond and remains in the custody of the Cass Co. jail.

He has a meeting scheduled for May 21 with the prosecutor's office and his preliminary hearing is set for May 27.