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Originally published March 21, 2012 at 2:50 PM | Page modified March 21, 2012 at 11:16 PM

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Husband charged in Lynnwood woman's 2006 slaying

The husband of a Lynnwood-area woman strangled in 2006 has been charged in connection with her slaying.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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An Arizona mother said she felt "like she hit the jackpot" after King County sheriff's detectives made an arrest in the 2006 slaying of her daughter.

Gael Schneider said her former son-in-law, Martin David Pietz, was long considered the key suspect in the strangulation of Nicole Pietz, of Lynnwood. Pietz, 34, was arrested Wednesday outside his job at a Chase Bank branch in Kirkland and charged with second-degree murder.

Police said DNA and cellphone records link him to the crime.

"These six years and 54 days have been hell," Schneider said Wednesday by phone from her home in Arizona. "I am so elated. This isn't going to bring my daughter back to me, but it's going to give her some justice and she certainly deserves that."

The body of Nicole Pietz, 32, was found in Burien in February 2006 about a week after her husband reported her missing.

Pietz's husband, who uses his middle name, David, has denied any culpability in her death. However, he failed a polygraph shortly after she was killed, says an affidavit of probable cause released Wednesday.

Investigators have not revealed a clear motive for the slaying, other than saying the couple had financial and marital problems.

Detectives also say David Pietz cheated on his wife. Charging documents say investigators found searches on the Pietz home computer for "swingers" clubs and "how to cheat on your spouse."

David Pietz, who hired a lawyer shortly after his wife's disappearance, is being held in lieu of $1 million bail.

According to charges:

David Pietz beat and strangled his wife at their Lynnwood-area condominium on the night of Jan. 27, 2006, or early the next morning. He then left her nude body in woods in Burien.

He told investigators that he arrived home around midnight on Jan. 28 to find his wife asleep, and when he awoke, about eight hours later, she was gone.

That day, Nicole Pietz failed to attend an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting in Renton, where she was to be honored for eight years of sobriety, Schneider said.

David Pietz left his job at a downtown Seattle health club later that day and went to a friend's house for dinner. His wife didn't show up. Pietz told the friend that he hadn't seen her since the previous night, charges say.

On Jan. 29, Pietz filed a missing-persons report with the Snohomish County Sheriff's Office.

His wife's body was found Feb. 6 in Burien. Her car was later found near the University of Washington.

Because the woman's body was found in Burien, the King County Sheriff's Office took over the investigation.

Detectives said Nicole Pietz's cellphone was used to call the health club where her husband worked on Jan. 28 — after she was killed, charges said. The call was placed two minutes after David Pietz left his work area, which is monitored by video.

Detectives said the call was placed just blocks from the health club.

Detectives also said that David Pietz left one voice-mail message on his wife's cellphone after he said she went missing.

Analysts from the State Patrol Crime lab examined Nicole Pietz's car and found David Pietz's DNA prevalent on the vehicle's steering wheel, gear shift and other surfaces — "the last places a driver would have touched," charges said.

David Pietz's lawyer, David Allen, said his client will aggressively fight the charges.

"Martin 'David' Pietz is innocent," he said in a statement issued Wednesday. "... The charging document indicates that there are no witnesses ... the State is relying upon what appears to be unreliable and inadmissible assumptions based on questionable evidence."

Jennifer Sullivan: 206-464-8294 or jensullivan@seattletimes.com. On Twitter @SeattleSullivan.

Seattle Times news researcher Miyoko Wolf contributed to this report, which includes information from Times archives.

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