NEW YORK – A man questioned in Pennsylvania by police in the gruesome meat-cleaver murder of a Manhattan psychologist has been released, according to local media reports.
For much of the day Thursday, NYPD detectives interrogated a man in his 40s in Bethlehem, Pa., who was reportedly a suspect in the vicious stabbing of Dr. Kathryn Faughey.
But the man left the police barracks with tears in his eyes, accompanied by his wife, by Thursday afternoon, according to The New York Post and WNYW.
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The Pennsylvania man who was questioned met the 56-year-old victim and her husband at a guitar camp six years ago, according to an official who spoke on condition of anonymity. They were not romantically linked, but were friends.
WCBS-TV characterized the person police were questioning as the prime suspect and reported that he is 43 years old.
But officials told The Associated Press that he wasn't a suspect. He was not arrested.
The man was found through Faughey's recent e-mail records and was picked up by Pennsylvania State Troopers at his home without incident at around 4:30 a.m. Thursday, according to police.
New York detectives conducted an interview Thursday morning inside the Bethlehem barracks of the Pennsylvania state police, according to state police spokeswoman Cpl. Linette Quinn.
Authorities had plenty of clues in their investigation of Faughey's death: A sketch, a witness, surveillance footage and two bags full of bizarre items the killer left in the basement of the victim's building.
What they're trying to find out is why the balding, middle-aged suspect attacked the therapist and seriously hurt a colleague who came to her aid.
Police were trying to determine whether the attacker was a patient.
Investigators combed the slain therapist's computer for clues, interviewing a traumatized patient who was in a neighboring office during the assault and analyzing security camera footage to see whether the attacker had been to the office before his deadly rampage.
Three knives were recovered at the scene, including a 9-inch knife and a meat cleaver apparently bent from use in the attack Tuesday night, police said.
Faughey's Upper East Side office was in shambles: Furniture was overturned, shades were torn and blood was sprayed on the walls and pooled on the floor. She suffered 15 stab wounds, including a gash to her head believed to be from the meat cleaver, police said.
"The condition of the room was that of a fierce struggle," said chief police spokesman Paul Browne.
Earlier Thursday, authorities released a sketch of a balding, middle-aged man believed to be the killer, along with surveillance videotapes of the attacker entering and leaving the building.
They said he left behind a roller suitcase filled with adult diapers and women's clothing — including blouses and slippers — and a smaller second bag containing eight knives, rope and duct tape that were not apparently used in the attack.
Believing the killer may have been injured, authorities issued alerts to area hospitals.
The murder shocked the mental health care community and raised questions about safety protections at therapists' offices. It also rattled residents of the affluent Manhattan neighborhood around Faughey's office.
"Everyone in the building is very nervous, because we know that this person is loose. It's very frightening," said Linda Elliott, who lives in the East 79th Street building where the attack occurred. It is in a bustling neighborhood just blocks from a major hospital complex.
Carrying the two bags and dressed in a three-quarter-length green coat, knit cap and gloves, the suspect breezed past the building's doorman, saying he had an appointment with Dr. Kent Shinbach, a 70-year-old geriatric psychiatrist who worked in the same office suite as Faughey, according to police.
Shinbach had office hours into the evening, police said, but it wasn't clear whether Shinbach or Faughey was the intended target.
The suspect walked into the suite's waiting room, where a female patient was waiting to see Shinbach, and at some point went into Faughey's office and started to attack her, police said. It wasn't clear how long the struggle continued before Shinbach heard Faughey's screams and ran to help. The female patient, who was in Shinbach's office during the attack, was being questioned by authorities.
The suspect apparently didn't recognize Shinbach when he opened the door and said "she's dead," referring to Faughey, according to police.
He then turned on Shinbach too, stabbing the psychiatrist and pinning him to the wall with a chair before stealing $90 and escaping through a basement door.
Shinbach was in serious condition at New York Hospital with slash wounds on his head, face and hands.
Blood was found on the basement doorknob, leading police to believe the suspect may have been familiar with the building since his escape route wasn't obvious. Surveillance tapes show him deliberately leaving the luggage by the basement door before walking out.
Shinbach screamed out to the street from Faughey's office for help, and the building doorman called 911 around 9 p.m. By then, the suspect had escaped.
The incident sent shockwaves through the city's large community of mental health professionals.
"It has had a shocking impact on the whole New York community," said Sharon Brennan, a psychologist in Manhattan and a spokeswoman for the New York State Psychological Association.
Faughey, a licensed psychologist and graduate of Yeshiva University in the Bronx, described herself as a specialist in cognitive behavioral therapy, which focuses on changing thoughts that cause feelings or behaviors.
On her Web site, Faughey said she treated patients for relationship issues, coping with breakups, anxiety, panic attacks, stress over job changes and online intimacy, such as relationship issues arising from computer and text messaging.
In an interview with The New York Times in 2004, Faughey offered some advice on breaking up in a digital age: "In the old days it was burn the letters," she said. "Today, clear the hard drive."
Her husband, Walter Adam, said Faughey was one of seven children of Irish immigrant parents and the first in her family to go to college.
"She helped so many people, rich and poor," Adam told The New York Daily News. "She was a very good and decent person."
Serious attacks by patients on their mental health providers are rare, but they do happen, usually in institutions that see more seriously ill patients.
Some therapists who see patients in private offices install alarm systems or emergency buzzers in case a patient becomes threatening. In Manhattan, many also are in buildings with doormen and video cameras.
"Safety is always a concern," Brennan said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.