A Mechanicsville man has been charged with murder almost two months after the badly decomposed body of his wife was discovered in her home.

Deborah E. Burch's body was found July 1 by her mother and her landlord in the living room of her home in the 27200 block of Three Notch Road south of Mechanicsville.

An autopsy found that Burch, 32, died from a methadone overdose days before her body was discovered.

Burch did not have a prescription for methadone, according to charging documents. The investigation turned to her husband, Charles D. Burch, 34, who had a prescription for the drug, which is used to treat heroin and morphine addicts.

The couple had a history of serious domestic abuse incidents, authorities said.

Court records show that Charles Burch was convicted three times of violating orders to stay away from his wife. He had been sent to jail as recently as May 24 for such a violation.

"She would call the police, and he would be arrested," said Sgt. William Rosado, spokesman for the St. Mary's County Bureau of Criminal Investigations. "Just before the death investigation, he was in jail."

A search of Deborah Burch's house turned up a bottle of methadone prescribed for Charles Burch, according to court records.

The drug had been prescribed for him June 16, the day after he completed a jail sentence for violating a protective order, the records said.

According to the charging documents, Burch spent the night with his wife on the day of his release. He left the next morning because he was not allowed to be at her home.

The documents said Burch acknowledged to investigators that he gave his wife five methadone pills June 16, the last day he saw her.

But at a bail hearing Friday, Burch told the court that he did not give methadone to his wife. He said the case against him "just doesn't make any sense."

"I loved my wife very much," he said. "I wouldn't give her the pills."

Burch has been charged with second-degree murder, manslaughter, reckless endangerment and distribution of narcotics. He was ordered held without bail in the St. Mary's County Detention Center.

In St. Mary's County District Court on Friday, Burch said he had been working for the past three weeks in White Plains for Automatic Heating & Air Conditioning Co., trying to earn money to pay for his wife's funeral expenses. During that time he had been staying at his mother's house in Abell in St. Mary's County.

Records show that Burch had been married once before and that he is the father of three children from that union.

Andrew Rappaport, an assistant state's attorney in St. Mary's, told the court Friday that Deborah Burch had feared something would happen to her if Charles Burch was released. Rappaport said she had pleaded with officials not to let him out.

"She stated that if he gets out of jail, she should just dig her own grave," Rappaport said.