Published May 13. 2009 4:00AM
COURTSHIGHER BOND HOLDS UP ACCUSED ARSONIST FOR TWO HOURS
The man accused of torching his wife's house in Niantic during a bitter divorce was taken into custody briefly Tuesday when a judge increased his bond due to another arrest involving his ex-wife.
Richard Tyler, formerly known as Richard Shenkman, has a pending arson case in New London Superior Court. He is accused of burning down a three-story Victorian at 29 S. Washington Ave. on March 5, 2007. At the time, he and his wife of 12 years, Nancy Tyler, were splitting up. He is free on a $550,000 bond in that case.
Last month, South Windsor police charged Tyler with forging his ex-wife's signature in order to obtain a loan against a life insurance policy she owned. Nancy Tyler complained to police after receiving a statement from the insurance company saying she owed them $9,000.
Tuesday morning, during his routine court appearance on the arson charge, State's Attorney Michael L. Regan asked Judge Susan B. Handy to increase Tyler's bond, saying he has continued "tweaking" his ex-wife by sending letters to her attorneys that contained veiled threats and even changing his last name from Shenkman to Tyler (her surname).
"He can't let it go," Regan said.
"He's 60 years old," said Tyler's attorney, Hugh Keefe. "He has no prior record whatsoever until this barrage of cases occurred. The complainant (in all of them) is his ex-wife."
Handy increased Tyler's bond by $25,000. Shenkman was in custody at the courthouse for about two hours before he made bond.
A Hartford judge issued the couple a divorce decree in July 2008, but Tyler appealed the decision. The state Appelate Court heard arguments in the case last month and is expected to issue a decision soon.
- KAREN FLORIN