Mark A. Miscavish, who retired from the state police in 2011 after 15 years, killed Traci Miscavish at around 10 a.m. at the County Market in Philipsburg where she worked, authorities said. Police also spelled her first name Tracie.
He was arrested Jan. 23 after Traci Miscavish, who had recently left him, returned to the home to retrieve some belongings, Centre County District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller said.
Traci Miscavish believed her husband had been abusing prescription drugs and when she went to take them away, he wrestled her to the ground, pinned her arms behind her and attempted to bind her with duct tape, said Parks Miller, whose office was prosecuting him.
He pulled out a gun - a police affidavit said he did not point it at her - and threatened to kill her, but a passer-by saw him trying to drag her back into the home and stopped to help, Parks Miller said. He was charged with simple assault, terroristic threats and harassment and spent a week in jail before being bailed out.
Parks Miller said Traci Miscavish lived in fear of her 51-year-old estranged husband and told prosecutors she believed he would harm her further.
"She said, 'The next time I see him is going to be at the end of a gun,'" Parks Miller told The Associated Press. "We were very concerned when he got out and we're just devastated now."
Mark Miscavish's defense attorney, David Charles Mason, was not available for comment, his office said.
Traci Miscavish filed for divorce within the past week.
Her sister Gina March, speaking to reporters outside the supermarket after the shooting, said the system had failed both her sister and her brother-in-law.
"He wasn't in his right mind," March said. "I don't believe he's at fault, I believe he needed help. ... And nobody was there to help him, not the judge, not the cops, not our system."
State police planned an afternoon news conference to discuss the case.
Christina Price, who said she works at a liquor store in the same strip mall as the supermarket, told the Centre Daily Times that Traci Miscavish was a cheerful woman and so friendly and happy that "you couldn't imagine there was stuff going on at home."
Price told the newspaper she had no idea the woman had a protection order against her husband.
"Would it have stopped this?" she asked. "It's like, how do you get out alive? When you've got kids and grandkids and friends and family, how do you split it and get away?"