Mthulisi Ndlovu told police that his girlfriend had gone missing after taking a morning jog.
The blood streaks on his walls and burned corpse in his basement suggested otherwise.
Ndlovu, a 38-year-old Zimbabwean immigrant, now stands charged with murder for what is described in court documents as a case of violent rage, followed by a clumsy cover-up.
According to statements filed in Pierce County Superior Court, Ndlovu allegedly came home on Oct. 9 and got into a fight about dirty dishes with his longtime girlfriend, 42-year-old mother of two Mary Mushapaidzi.
During this fight, prosecutors say, Mushapaidzi struck Ndlovu with her purse, and the man then got angry and knocked her to the floor.
That's when the pruning shears came out.
NDLOVU said Mushapaidzi struck him in the face with her purse. NDLOVU said he became enraged and knocked Mushapaidzi to the ground. He climbed on top of her and punched her several times. He said it was possible that he tried to strangle her and struck her with the handle of the pruning shears, but he couldn't remember.
After Ndlovu allegedly bludgeoned his girlfriend he eventually realized she was dead, so he "fashioned a wire harness" that he used to drag her downstairs and place her in a metal barrel.
Then he went to work.
When he came back from work, prosecutors say Ndlovu put charcoal into the barrel and set it on fire in an effort to destroy the corpse.
Ndlovu next went to the Bonney Lake police station and informed police that his girlfriend never came home from her run.
But when police came to Ndlovu's apartment they immediately smelled something burning--Ndlovu claimed he was burning trash in his basement. Police also found blood streaks trailing down to the basement.
Then police found the burned human remains in the barrel.
Neighbors told police that they heard several loud noises the night before, and Mushapaidzi's 8-year-old son said he vaguely remembers hearing his mom cry out for help.