By Sean Daly
Johnston, RI (WPRI/CNN) - A Rhode Island man is accused of killing and dismembering his common-law wife, then setting a fire to cover it up.
He appeared in court Tuesday to answer to a grand jury indictment.
It started out as a house fire on Pershing Road in Johnston in January. But firefighters soon made a gruesome discovery.
"They came upon some suspicious remains inside the fireplace. After further investigation, it appeared that the remains could be that of a human body. It was actually wrapped in cloth and it was burned severely and it was actually cut up into pieces," said Chief David DeCesare.
On Tuesday, 52-year-old Donald Greenslit pleaded not guilty to domestic murder in the horrific death of his common-law wife, Stacie Dorego, but in January, police say he confessed to stabbing her in the chest and then cutting up her body and setting it on fire.
Here's his version of why:
"He claims that it was self-defense, that she tried to attack him with a knife. He fended her off and in the process of fending her off, he stabbed her."
Two small children, a 3-year-old and a 5-year-old, were in the house at the time. They were taken to the hospital because of the fire.
Neighbors were stunned by this deeply disturbing crime.
At the time of Dorego's murder, Greenslit was serving a suspended sentence and was on probation for domestic simple assault.
He's being held without bail.