Police: Kathy Augustine Murdered, Husband in Custody - 8 News NOW

Police: Kathy Augustine Murdered, Husband in Custody

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Mug shot of Chaz Higgs taken in Virginia on Sept. 29, 2006. (Hampton Police) Mug shot of Chaz Higgs taken in Virginia on Sept. 29, 2006. (Hampton Police)
Chaz Higgs under arrest in Virginia Chaz Higgs under arrest in Virginia

The husband of the late State Controller Kathy Augustine appeared in a Virginia courtroom this morning and waived extradition to Nevada.

Higgs was arrested in Virginia Friday and charged with her murder after an FBI toxicology test found a paralyzing drug in her system.

The 42-year-old Higgs was arrested Friday afternoon in Hampton, Virginia on a warrant issued in Reno charging him with first-degree murder, Reno police spokesman Steve Frady said.

The warrant was issued Wednesday afternoon; just hours after a coroner's autopsy and results of toxicology tests found the drug succinylcholine in Augustine's system, which police described as a "very powerful paralytic."

Read more about the Reno Police investigation into Augustine's death

Reno police called in help from the local authorities in Virginia, and Higgs was arrested without incident.  The warrant and test results had been kept secret until Reno police announced Higgs' arrest Friday afternoon.

Eyewitness News spoke to Steve Frady of the Reno Police Department Friday evening. He explained how authorities developed the warrant to arrest Chaz Higgs.

"The warrant charging Higgs with first-degree murder was issued following a review of evidence in the case including a coroner's autopsy report with toxicology results received this week from the Federal Bureau of Investigation National Laboratory indicating the presence of succinylcholine, a very powerful paralytic, in her system. According to medical experts, the drug paralyzes muscles in the body within several minutes including the muscles used for breathing," Frady stated.

Reno police say this drug found in Augustine's system has no affect on consciousness or pain perception. That means an individual will be paralyzed and awake while they are dying. Police say this is a drug commonly used in hospital operating rooms to help put breathing tubes in patients.

Higgs, a nurse at Carson-Tahoe Regional Medical Center, said he found Kathy Augustine unconscious in her Reno home on July 8th. She was taken to a Reno hospital were she died three days later on July 11th without regaining consciousness. 

Late Friday afternoon, the Reno Police Department disclosed new information about the original sequence of events once Augustine was found dead. Eyewitness News was told they received an anonymous tip that her death may not have been accidental and that's when the full-fledged investigation began.

Chaz Higgs told the media she died of a massive heart attack.

Click here to see the timeline in this case.

Police said Augustine had no history of heart problems and that a preliminary autopsy showed no obvious signs of heart disease.

Three days after her death, Chaz Higgs attempted suicide. He was released from the hospital on the same day. He did not attend his wife's funeral the following day.

It has taken two months and two weeks for the toxicology report to come back.

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