Questions, no answers in doctor murder

February 14, 2008 6:42:04 PM PST
Detectives looking for the man who butchered a Manhattan psychologist expanded their investigation to Pennsylvania on Thursday, interviewing a man who spoke to the victim in the days before the killing about his personal problems, authorities said. The man was not considered a suspect, but it showed how determined investigators were to track down any clues into the mystery slasher. They are analyzing a surveillance videotape, studying DNA from the crime scene and checking bloody prints left on the basement door of the building where the killer escaped into the night.

The killer slashed Kathryn Faughey 15 times with a meat cleaver and a 9-inch knife at her office on Tuesday evening. A psychiatrist who worked in the building, Kent Shinbach, came to Faughey's rescue and was badly injured by the attacker, who stabbed him and pinned him to the wall before stealing $90 from his pocket.

The man interviewed in Pennsylvania met Faughey, 56, at a guitar camp several years ago, and they were friends, according to a law enforcement official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing.

The man was found through Faughey's recent e-mail records, which contained messages about his personal problems, the law enforcement official said. He was picked up by Pennsylvania state troopers at his home without incident at around 4:30 a.m. and was let go eight and a half hours later after he asked for a lawyer, the official said.

"The reasons they had for questioning me were valid," said William Kunsman, of Coplay, Pa., adding that he was "extremely saddened" to hear of the death. "I've been in more contact with Kathryn lately. I've been speaking to her a lot lately on the phone and by e-mail. I guess that's what led them here."

Kunsman, who is married with six children, last spoke to Faughey on Tuesday afternoon but declined to say what their conversation was about. "That's personal. She was just being a friend," he said.

Don Hurley, a recently retired reporter from the Sunday Times of London, called Faughey a "dear, dear friend" whom he first met in 2003 through an online club for people interested in Martin Guitars.

In a strange twist, Hurley and Faughey traded e-mail messages about a variety of topics on the evening of the murder, including Kunsman. He said Faughey had reached out to Kunsman after he "lost his way a little bit" and offered some help.

In her last message, sent about 30 minutes before the killing, Faughey mentioned Kunsman, but gave no indication that she was worried about her safety, or that she was expecting any visitors that evening. He said he found it hard to believe Kunsman had anything to do with the attack.

Kunsman did not appear to be injured; police initially indicated that the killer might have suffered wounds from the struggle.

During the questioning, Kunsman said the detectives never referred to him as a suspect. "The reason it took so long is so they could ... verify what I was telling them was the truth," Kunsman said.

"I had no idea what was going on because I hadn't even heard the news about Kathryn. It didn't become clear to me until during the questioning what had happened," he said.

The suspect left behind several clues, dropping two bags near the basement door where he escaped. The bags were filled with adult diapers and women's clothing - including blouses and slippers - and eight knives, rope and duct tape that were not apparently used in the attack, police said.

The type of diapers found are not widely distributed but were available near Bethlehem, Pa., officials said, but that was not what led authorities to Pennsylvania.

Police also recovered three knives at the scene, including a 9-inch knife and a meat cleaver that were apparently bent from the force of the attack. Faughey's office was in tatters, with furniture overturned, shades torn and blood sprayed on the walls and pooled on the floor.

Blood was spattered on the floor and office walls and on the basement door where the balding, middle-aged man escaped. Police released a detailed sketch Wednesday, along with grainy surveillance footage of him entering and leaving the building on East 79th Street. Police would not say whether the man being questioned matched the description of the suspect.

Police initially believed the killer may be a patient of Faughey, but were also questioning other acquaintances.

The suspect breezed past the building's doorman, saying he had an appointment with Shinbach, a 70-year-old geriatric psychiatrist. He then walked into the suite's waiting room, where a female patient was waiting to see Shinbach; at some point he went into Faughey's office and started to attack her, police said.

Shinbach was taken to New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center with slash wounds on his head, face and hands. The hospital declined to release any information about Shinbach on Thursday; police believed he remained in serious but stable condition.

Faughey, a licensed psychologist and graduate of Yeshiva University in the Bronx, described herself as a specialist in cognitive behavioral therapy, which focuses on changing thoughts that cause feelings or behaviors.

On her Web site, Faughey said she treated patients for relationship issues, coping with breakups, anxiety, panic attacks, stress over job changes and online intimacy, such as relationship issues arising from computer and text messaging.

She was also an avid guitar player, although a beginner by the standards of the guitar club, whose members included professional musicians. In the past few years she had attended several of the group's get-togethers in Pennsylvania and elsewhere and become fast friends with some of her fellow Martin enthusiasts.

Her husband, Walter Adam, said Faughey was one of seven children of Irish immigrant parents and the first in her family to go to college.

"She helped so many people, rich and poor," Adam told reporters. "She was a very good and decent person."

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Associated Press writers David B. Caruso and Michael Rubinkam contributed to this report.


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