Mother's brutal murder reveals dark family secrets

Jeffrey Pyne, an honor student and athlete - the perfect son - becomes the prime suspect in Ruth Pyne's murder

Produced by Liza Finley, Marc Goldbaum and Ruth Chenetz
[This story first aired on Jan. 12. It was updated on Aug. 10]

(CBS) HIGHLAND TOWNSHIP, Mich. | A savagely murdered suburban wife and mother ... her husband and son the prime suspects. Even for a couple of hard-bitten detectives like Dave Hendrick and Greg Glover, this was a tough one.

"We take no joy in this case. I mean, this was a brutal case literally is destroying a family," said Oakland County Det. Sgt. Greg Glover.

It started as a love story. Bernie Pyne says he was smitten the minute he saw a fresh-faced farm girl named Ruth walk across the room during his senior year in high school.

"I said, 'You are beautiful. We need to go out.' And she said, 'Just get out of here,'" Bernie told "48 Hours" correspondent Tracy Smith.

"But you were relentless," Smith remarked.

"I called her up about every couple of months. And on one occasion, she goes, 'Yes, I will.' ... we were actually married less than 10 months later," he said.

They settled in suburban Detroit and eventually had two kids: Jeffrey and, 10 years later, Julia.

"There were many, many years that were ... not just normal, they were wonderful. Ruth was a wonderful mom and wonderful wife," Bernie said looking at family photos. "Lots of happy times."

But Bernie says nearly 20 years into the marriage their lives took a very dark turn.

"I could just tell that there was something wrong," he told Smith. "And then I ... noticed that she didn't sleep. ... I said, 'Have you had trouble sleeping?' She goes, 'Yeah ... I haven't slept in eight days.' That's when we knew ... there was something drastically wrong."

Ruth was eventually diagnosed as bipolar with psychotic features.

"As the illness progressed, what was her mental state like?" Smith asked.

"She would actually think ... there were ... listening devices in the house. In fact, one time she actually thought there was a tracking device in her bloodstream," Bernie replied.

She grew increasingly paranoid, says Bernie, even stashing knives in the headboard of their bed. Ruth was prescribed anti-psychotic drugs, but she refused to take them.

"She believed all medicine was a form of sorcery and she wasn't gonna take it," said Bernie.

Despite Ruth's illness, Bernie says the children managed to excel; Julia in ballet and Jeffrey on the basketball court and in the classroom.

"He was top of his class? Smith asked.

"Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. He was the -- he was the valedictorian," Bernie said with pride. "He was actually one of the top three recruits/in the honors program at U of M Flint."

All that while holding down two jobs and caring for Julia when his mom was too ill. The toll it took on Julia can be seen in a heartbreaking drawing she made when she was 8. The picture shows Julia with Ruth, who was crying.

"Somebody had to be there for the family," Ruth's sister, Linda Jarvie said. "Jeff had to be the guy there to pick up the pieces."

After a vicious cycle on and off meds and in and out of hospitals, things escalated to violence in 2010.

"She'd been off her medication. She hadn't been sleeping. She was just -- she was just miserable," Bernie explained. "I said, 'Ruth, just please take your medication.' After she got through telling me, basically, 'no,' Jeffrey came into the room. ... And she launched out of the bed and ... she actually grabbed his throat and tried to hit him."

"Jeffrey never fought back?" Smith asked.

"Never. He's a tender soul," Bernie said. "He's not a fighter. He's ... a loving son."

The police were called to the scene says Det. Sgt. David Hendrick.

"She was, in fact, arrested for domestic violence," he said.

Ruth spent over two weeks in jail -- time Bernie and Jeff used to petition the court to force Ruth to take her medicine.

"I don't want her to take her medication either, but when she doesn't bad things happen," Bernie testified.

Ruth was sent to a hospital for 23 days. When she returned home, she once again refused to take her meds.

"We loved Ruth. But it was gettin' old," Bernie told Smith. "And I ... went to the attorney. And I had done everything but serve Ruth the [divorce] papers. ... As much as I loved her, I couldn't take it anymore."

There was something else. Bernie had met a woman -- Renee Ginell, the manager of a local GNC store.

"Somehow the relationship escalated. When it was all said and done, we were very close," said Bernie.

Ruth caught Bernie and his lover having dinner at a local restaurant. For Bernie, it was the final straw. That night, he asked Ruth for a divorce.

"She said, 'Bernie, I'll do whatever it takes to save my marriage and my family,'" he told Smith. "When she said that to me, I said, 'OK. That means you must take your medication. And -- you must let me go to the doctor with you, so that we can work with it and get -- the levels right.'"

"And did she?"

"She did."

"So the Pyne household was a happy household in the spring of 2011?" Smith asked.

"We were at the best place that we had been in a long time," Bernie replied.

Before spring was over, 51-year-old Ruth Pyne would be found lying in a pool of her own blood on the garage floor of her home. She was so badly beaten her skull had been cracked open.

"I don't want to think about what my sister had to go through," Jarvie said. "You hope that she was unconscious and knocked out early ... you don't want to go there. It's too painful."

But Jarvie did think about who did it and wasted no time telling police.

"The police asked me who killed my sister and I said, 'Bernie Pyne,'" she said. "He's a violent person, I mean I'm afraid of him."

And, Jarvie says, so was her sister ... at least until Jeffrey was born.

"There was always a sense that Ruth was afraid of her situation with Bernie and she left him a few times to come live with me," she told "48 Hours."

Bernie denies ever harming Ruth and says she never stayed with Linda during their marriage. He does admit he had wild streak in his youth.

"I was a little bit of trouble back then. I was a little rough around the edges," he told Smith.

And, Bernie tells "48 Hours", he was once arrested for putting guy in a coma during a bar fight, but was acquitted of felony assault. He insists those days are long gone.

Still, he knew it didn't look good.

"So you felt like a suspect?" Smith asked Bernie.

"I'm a husband of a mentally ill woman who had had an affair within the last six months. Yes," he replied.

"What was it like living under that cloud of suspicion?"

"Very uncomfortable."

"How so? Did you feel like everyone was watching you?"

"In the first place, as a husband to have your wife brutalized like this is the most painful and humiliating thing that can happen to a person. And then, to have people think that you could do it, is the most disgusting and debilitating thought that you can have," Bernie replied, overcome with emotion.

But it turned out that Bernie had an ironclad alibi, backed by his boss and four witnesses. He was at a retirement lunch for one of his buddies at work.

"It took a couple days, but we were able to actually confirm Bernie's alibi and pretty much rule him out as a suspect at that point," said Det. Hendrick.

Bernie started calling Det. Glover, sharing information and helping out however he could.

"I wanted to be part of finding out who did this to my wife," he said.

The two men developed a close rapport, but it was not destined to last.

"It came to a point to where Bernie -- flat out asked us. He said, 'I wanna know in your mind who the monster is that committed this crime,'" Det. Glover said. "And I actually said to Bernie, I said, 'Bernie, I'm not sure you want us to tell you that.' And he said, 'I want to know who the monster is in this case.' And I said, 'Bernie,' I said - 'Your son is the one that - that -- that killed your wife.'"

In October 2011, five months after his mother was found bludgeoned and stabbed to death, 21-year-old Jeffrey Pyne was arrested and charged with first-degree murder.

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