The New York police have arrested a 39-year-old man with a history of mental problems on charges of brutally killing a psychologist. Reasons remain unclear though.
The murder of therapist Kathryn Faughey sent shockwaves in the community. She had been slashed 15 times with the cleaver and a 9-inch knife in her Manhattan office Tuesday evening.
A psychiatrist who went to her assistance, Dr. Kent Shinbach, was badly injured.
David Tarloff of Queens, the accused, was taken into custody Friday after investigators matched him with three palm prints found at the bloody crime scene, said Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly.
During questioning, Tarloff said he had gone to the office because Shinbach had him institutionalized in 1991. He said he planned to rob the psychiatrist and leave the country with his mother, who lived in a nursing home, but until recently had lived with him in an apartment in Queens.
Kelly couldn't confirm whether Tarloff was ever Shinbach's patient, or whether he had met Faughey. It remained unclear why Tarloff would have attacked Faughey, police said.
The breakthrough in the case came as friends, relatives and former patients attended a funeral for the slain therapist in Manhattan.
"I hope this arrest provides some measure of solace at this terrible time for her husband and the rest of her family," Kelly said.
Neighbors described Tarloff as a troubled, erratic, sometimes combative man who would occasionally wander the halls half-clothed, muttering to himself. He attended Syracuse University but did not graduate and was unemployed, neighbors said.
Tarloff had been arrested about two weeks ago for punching a security guard in the face at St. John's Episcopal Hospital after he was asked to leave, Kelly said. It wasn't clear why he was at the hospital.
Police matched his prints from the Feb. 1 arrest with three found on a roller suitcase left at the crime scene. The suitcase was filled with adult diapers and women's clothing and was left near the basement door where the killer escaped. A smaller bag was also found with rope, duct tape and knives not used in the attack, police said.
Investigators established Tarloff's identity early Saturday and found his address on an application he had submitted in 2001 to the city's Taxi and Limousine Commission, which licenses cabdrivers.
Police then moved swiftly to locate him. Detectives discovered him at his apartment, and he went voluntarily to the 19th Precinct near where the attack occurred, Kelly said.
Kelly described his demeanor as "calm" but said Tarloff had cuts on his right hand.
During the interrogation, Tarloff claimed he had been institutionalized or incarcerated 20 times — a figure Kelly said didn't appear to be accurate, reports news agency AP.
There was a whirl of police activity at the Queens apartment Saturday afternoon. Police barred nonresidents as officers came and went. Police searched Tarloff's apartment and were collecting possible evidence, Kelly said.
One neighbor who has known the family for decades, Phyllis Zicherman, said that Tarloff had seemed down lately, but that she was stunned to hear he was a suspect. "He had problems, but he was never violent," she said.
Sisters Betty and Margaret Feeney, who live below Tarloff, said they have known him his entire life. They described him as unstable but were shocked that he was accused in the slaying.
"I know he's crazy and everything," said Betty, 72. "I don't think that he's capable of doing something like that — of killing somebody. I really don't."
She said that Tarloff would come around asking for money but that she would not give it to him.
"I would keep out of the elevator if I saw him. I was scared of him. I wouldn't go near where he would be," she said. "He used to make terrible noise above us. We had an awful time with him. He was tramping back and forth all hours of the night."
Investigators said the pudgy, balding, middle-aged killer arrived around 8 p.m. Tuesday, telling the doorman he had an appointment with Shinbach, then sat in the waiting room with another of Shinbach's patients until she went into his office around 8:30 p.m.
Sometime after that, the killer entered Faughey's office and attacked her. Shinbach came to her aid but was assaulted, pinned behind a chair and robbed of $90. The killer then tried to attack Shinbach's patient, but she fended him off and he fled.
Blood was splattered on the walls and pooled on the floor of Faughey's office and was found on the basement door, police said. Three witnesses, including Shinbach, picked Tarloff out of a lineup, Kelly said.
Earlier in the week, detectives traveled to Pennsylvania to interview a friend of Faughey who spoke to the psychologist that day. He was not considered a suspect, police said.
Shinbach was taken to New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center with slash wounds on his head, face and hands. Kelly said the psychiatrist was released Saturday.