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Hartford Lawyer, Held Hostage for a Day, Escapes Before Home Is Set on Fire

Posted Jul 8, 2009 6:23 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A Hartford, Conn., medical malpractice defense lawyer managed to escape her home after her ex-husband held her hostage for more than nine hours yesterday. Soon afterward, the home became engulfed in flames.

It’s not clear whether lawyer Nancy Tyler escaped or was released by her ex-husband, Richard Shenkman, according to stories in the New York Post and the Hartford Courant. Shenkman, a former ad executive, had abducted Tyler in the parking lot of her workplace yesterday, the same day she planned to attend a contempt hearing on Shenkman’s failure to turn over the house, the stories say.

At first, Shenkman remained in the home as it burned, begging police to kill him. He later left and was taken away in an ambulance. He is scheduled to be arraigned today, if he does not remain hospitalized, on charges that include kidnapping and arson, according to the Courant.

Tyler, 57, is a lawyer with the law firm of O'Brien, Tanski and Young, the Connecticut Law Tribune reports. The judge who granted the couple’s divorce last year after a three-year battle said Shenkman was “obsessed with ruining his wife.”

The couple also had a second home, but it burned down in 2007 hours before it was set to be turned over to Tyler. Shenkman was charged with arson in that case.

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