Anatomy of a Troubled Past

Police have documented the couple's troubles for years

Long before Nancy Tyler was apparently kidnapped, taken hostage and held for about 12 hours in her South Windsor home, she and her estranged husband had problems. 

Court documents go back to at least 2006 showing a troubled relationship and allege a pattern of abuse and threatening leading up to an ordeal that ended with Tyler’s escape and Richard Shenkman’s arrest.

 Here is what the police included in warrants and affidavits:

January 2006: Tyler leaves the couple’s South Windsor home and moves in with her children in Niantic.

June 2006: Shenkman says he has cancer and needs to move to the Niantic home so Tyler can take care of him.

July 11, 2006: Tyler requests a restraining order against Shenkman. She tells police she’s been experiencing an abusive relationship with him and that he had become more abusive and threatening.

Police contact Shenkman, who gets angry and tells police he was going to make Tyler miserable and wish she’d never tried to divorce him.

Shenkman contacts Tyler’s sister multiple times and tells her she will be going to a funeral for him soon. He intimates that his wife and kids would die, too.

Police charge Shenkman with threatening.

January 2007: Shenkman has himself added to Tyler’s home insurance policy without her consent.

March 5, 2007: Tyler’s $400,000 home at 29 South Washington St., East Lyme burns. Police  respond for calls of a person screaming and find Richard Shenkman and two dogs on the first-floor porch roof.

Shenkman was supposed to have vacated the home that day. Tyler tells police she and Shenkman are in the process of a very bitter and prolonged divorce and that he had called over the weekend, saying he would ruin her financially and professionally. He also said marriage occurs before God and would only end upon their death, Tyler tells police. During the investigation, police search Shenkman’s computer files and find several photos of the house and its contents.

March 8, 2007: Tyler provides  police with 71 pages of correspondence from Shenkman indicating that he would never divorce her, that divorce proceedings were a war and that, again,  he would do anything possible to ruin her, financially and professionally. He asks that the divorce proceedings stop and threatens suicide. He also said he would never allow her to take 29 Washington St.

March 14, 2007: Police obtain an arrest warrant for Shenkman, charging him with violating a protective order by contacting Tyler.

July 8, 2009: Shenkman allegedly kidnaps Tyler from her Hartford office parking garage and holds her hostage at their South Windsor home for more than 12 hours. She escapes uninjured. The house burns to the ground and Shenkman emerges, where he is taken into custody.

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