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Big stories of 2009: Richard Shenkman

By Karen Florin

Publication: The Day

Published December 24. 2009 4:00AM   Updated December 28. 2009 10:18AM

Richard J. Shenkman captured the state's attention when he kidnapped his ex-wife, Nancy Tyler, in downtown Hartford on July 7 and held her hostage in his South Windsor home. Shenkman and Tyler were due in court that day for their divorce case, and Shenkman said he feared a judge was going to imprison him for contempt of court.

Saying he had rigged the house with explosives, Shenkman held police off and made a series of demands throughout the day, including requests for a priest to deliver last rites to Tyler and for the judge who had granted the divorce to remarry the couple.

With Shenkman distracted, Tyler ran out the back door into the arms of a SWAT team member. The standoff ended hours later when Shenkman, who allegedly lit the house on fire, appeared at the back entrance of the burning dwelling and was taken into custody.

Shenkman, charged in 2007 with torching his wife's Niantic beach house, now faced a second arson charge, along with charges of attempted murder, kidnapping and other crimes. He is being held without bond while his cases are heard in New London and Hartford courts. A judge in the divorce case did find Shenkman in contempt of court.

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