Wednesday, July 8, 2009

SOUTH WINDSOR, Conn. (AP) — An advertising executive kidnapped his ex-wife from a parking garage Tuesday, held her hostage for hours in a suburban home and fired gunshots as police negotiators and a bomb squad waited outside, authorities said.

There were no reports of injuries.

A newspaper reported that Richard Shenkman had given it a list of demands, including that a priest be brought in to give his ex-wife, Nancy Tyler, her last rites. A priest was on the scene.

The Day newspaper, of New London, reported Shenkman told a reporter it would be the police, not him, who would hurt Tyler, whom he put on the phone three times.

“I think they’re going to get frustrated soon and they’re going to push me,” he said, according to the newspaper. “I believe this is going to end in violence, not that I want it to.”

Shenkman is accused of kidnapping Tyler after he missed a meeting with lawyer Hugh Keefe at Hartford Superior Court on Tuesday morning. He was supposed to vacate the home later in the day, Keefe said.

“I hope it ends peacefully without any more violence,” Keefe said.

Police blocked off streets near the home that the couple used to share in South Windsor, just outside Hartford, around 11 a.m. Several hours later, the situation continued.

Police negotiators and the bomb squad were at the scene, and authorities said they were communicating with the two people in the home. South Windsor police Cmdr. Matthew Reed said there was no confirmation of explosives in the house.

Shenkman was “irritated” by stories on the Internet and demanded the Hartford Courant remove its story, Reed said. Reed said he was told by the newspaper the story would remain posted.

A message was left by The Associated Press for interim Editor Naedine Hazell.

Reed said he could not confirm that Shenkman had been in contact with The Day.

Shenkman made other demands, said Reed, who would not elaborate. The Day reported they included asking that Judge Jorge Simon, who presided over the couple’s divorce case, remarry them. It said he also requested a copy of the SWAT team procedure handbook and asked that police “back off the property,” which he said they did.

Shenkman, 60, and Tyler, 57, have shared three years of contentious divorce proceedings, Keefe said. They married in 1993; a judge granted the divorce last year, but Shenkman has been appealing.

The state Appellate Court, in a decision released Tuesday, rejected Shenkman’s appeal. Shenkman had sought to delay the divorce proceedings until an arson case against him was resolved.

He is accused of burning the couple’s beach home in East Lyme in 2007 hours before he was to hand it over to Tyler. The case is pending in New London Superior Court.

Shenkman also has other pending criminal charges, including threatening, violating a protective order and forgery, according to the state Judicial Branch.

Tyler’s lawyer, Norm Pattis, said Shenkman’s behavior during the divorce trial was “menacing, threatening, nothing short of bizarre.”

“The reports that he abducted Ms. Tyler … is consistent with the level of irrationality that he displayed throughout the proceedings,” Pattis said. “I hope the police will take prompt and decisive action to make sure no harm comes to Ms. Tyler.”

Tyler is a medical malpractice lawyer who worked for Shenkman’s advertising firm in Bloomfield, according to divorce records. The firm produced “The Gayle King Show” and did commercials for state government, the records say.

The Appellate Court file includes a cassette tape of more than a dozen voice mail messages from Shenkman to Tyler, which contain numerous threats.

“We are not getting divorced,” he said in one message. “It is not going to happen. Listen to my words. We’re not divorced. We’re not getting divorced. We were married ‘til death do us part. We made vows in front of God. He was our witness, and you can only get your divorce one way, and that’s death. You can only be unmarried by death.”

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