Investigators probe rubble after fire

South Windsor - Late Thursday morning an excavator continued to dig through the smoldering rubble that was Richard Shenkman's house on Tumblebrook Drive. A South Windsor police van was parked in front of the property, which was secured with orange fencing and fluorescent yellow "warning" signs posted every 20 feet.

Neighbors walked their dogs, mowed their lawns and a paving company did work on a nearby driveway. Several cars slowed to a crawl while their occupants gawked at the site before turning around and driving by again to get another look.

They were looking at the results of the fire that leveled the house and ultimately ended the standoff between police and Shenkman Tuesday night.

The exact cause of the fire is still unknown, South Windsor police Lt. Timothy Edwards said Thursday afternoon. State and local fire marshals have been sifting through the rubble of the house where Shenkman had held his ex-wife, Nancy P. Tyler, as a hostage for about 12 hours before she escaped shortly after sunset.

Shenkman was released late Wednesday from Hartford Hospital and is in the custody of the state Department of Correction at the MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution in Suffield.

DOC spokesman Brian Garnett would not say if Shenkman is under suicide watch or in a medical facility at the prison. Shenkman is scheduled to appear in Hartford Superior Court on July 14.

He is being held on $12.5 million bail: $10 million for charges related to incidents that took place Tuesday in Hartford, including first-degree kidnapping, and $2.5 million for holding his ex-wife hostage in the home they once shared on Tumblebrook Drive.

Shenkman was hospitalized after allegedly setting fire to the house.

He was arraigned on myriad charges in the emergency department at Hartford Hospital on Wednesday afternoon.

The warrant Hartford police are preparing for Shenkman has not been served yet, according to a spokeswoman for the police department. She said it would be served Tuesday during Shenkman's scheduled court appearance.

Late Wednesday investigators searching the rubble found "a small handgun to the rear of the residence immediately adjacent to the door Shenkman exited.

The gun is a small .25 caliber handgun," said South Windsor police Cmdr. Matthew Reed.

m.bard@theday.com

i.larraneta@theday.com

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