A woman held hostage for hours by her estranged husband at their former home got out safely Tuesday, said police, who surrounded the house as it was engulfed in flames with the defiant man still inside.
Gunshots were fired at the South Windsor house shortly after
power was cut to the neighborhood and a SWAT team geared up.
Police, who didn't provide details on how the woman got out, used a
bullhorn to tell the man, Richard Shenkman, to leave the house
because it was on fire, but he wouldn't leave.
There were no immediate reports of injuries.
Shenkman claimed the house was booby-trapped with explosives,
police said. A bomb squad had been on the scene since the standoff
began Tuesday morning.
Authorities say Shenkman abducted Nancy Tyler from a parking
garage after he missed a court hearing. His attorney said the
hearing was related to an order that he vacate the suburban
A local newspaper reported when the woman was still in the home
that Shenkman had given it a list of demands, including that a
priest be brought in to give her last rites. A priest was on the
Shenkman's attorney, Hugh Keefe, said he hoped for a peaceful
ending without any more violence.
Police blocked off streets near the home that the couple used to
share around 11 a.m.
South Windsor police Cmdr. Matthew Reed said there was no confirmation of explosives in the house even though there were
indications, such as "some wires and some other odd items."
Shenkman made several demands, said Reed, who would not
elaborate. The Day newspaper, of New London, reported they included
summoning the priest and asking that Judge Jorge Simon, who
presided over the couple's divorce case, remarry them. It reported
he also requested a copy of the SWAT team procedure handbook and
asked that police "back off the property," which he said they
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
"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
"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."
Shortly before the trial, the records how, Shenkman was
hospitalized because his lawyer thought he might be a danger to