A grand jury has upped the charge to first-degree murder against a Cottage Grove husband accused of shooting his wife and trying to disguise her death as a suicide.

Stephen C. Allwine, 44, now faces life in prison for allegedly killing Amy Allwine, 43, in a bedroom in their home on 110th Street in November.

A Washington County grand jury came back with the first-degree murder indictment on Friday, meaning a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole. Allwine remains jailed in lieu of $1 million bail with conditions. That amount had been $500,000 before the new charge.

County Attorney Pete Orput said after the indictment was filed, "We have great faith in the grand jury process and those people serving on the grand jury exercising their civic responsibility."

Investigators say they uncovered evidence that Stephen Allwine wanted out of his marriage. He allegedly was having at least two extramarital affairs with metro-area women that were arranged through the Ashley Madison website.

Prosecutors also have alleged that he went deep into what is called the "dark web," and looked into hiring a hit man.

Allwine, an internet technology specialist, worked from his basement. Detectives searched his home and found "a large amount of computer equipment, which appeared to be very sophisticated and technologically advanced," according to the criminal complaint, filed in January, that alleged second-degree murder.

"Victim's hands revealed no soot, no gunpowder stippling, no unburned gunpowder stippling, and no blood on either hand," the complaint read.

Prosecutors say Allwine told them his wife had a $700,000 life insurance policy.

Amy Allwine was owner of Active Dog Sports Training, a business that closed after her death. The Allwines have a son who was 9 years old at the time of his mother's death.

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482