The man charged with murdering George H.W. Bush’s former cardiologist committed suicide Friday after being confronted by two members of the Houston Police department, officials said.
Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo declared "This is our suspect" at a press conference less than an hour after Joseph Pappas, 62, shot himself near his home in Houston.
Acevedo explained that a witness called authorities at 9:21 A.M. to say he had seen a suspect he believed was Pappas, as well as a wallet with his ID that he left on the ground. Acevedo said he wasn't sure if Pappas left the wallet on purpose or by accident.
When police arrived, they found Pappas wearing body armor. He did not comply with officers' commands and, when more officers closed in, Pappas shot himself in the head, around 3.5 miles from his home.
Acevedo said he was convinced there may have been a shootout with police had a second officer not arrived.
"You don't wear body armor when you're thinking of suicide," he said.
He added police believe Pappas had been camping since Wednesday, when he was identified as the suspect in Dr. Mark Hausknecht's death. Pappas was found with a backpack and a bullet proof vest under his shirt.
Acevedo also addressed reports of a "hit list" Pappas had. He said that the suspect had put together an extensive file on Hausknecht, and inside the file there was a sheet with several names of other doctors and employees of the Texas Medical Center, all of whom were informed.
The confrontation with police came the day after Houston police searched and cleared his home after a neighbor alerted authorities when they saw an open gate and spotted someone resembling him. A light was also on inside the residence.
Police believed Pappas was seeking revenge for his mother, who died on Hausknecht's operating table more than 20 years ago.
Hausknecht was shot three times while riding his bike on July 20. Pappas, who was also riding a bike, rode past the doctor before turning around and pulling the trigger, according to police.
Pappas worked from 1983 through 1995 as a peace officer with two Houston-area constable offices. He also worked from 1995 through 2013 as a reserve officer for the same constable offices, according to records from the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement.
Ever since Hausknecht was shot dead, Pappas appeared to have been putting his affairs in order.
An Ohio woman claimed he deeded his Houston home to her three days after the attack.
Jeanette Spencer, from Painseville, said she received notification in the mail from family friend Joseph James Pappas, 62, according to The News-Herald.
She said upon receiving the deed, which was executed in February 2017, but recorded July 23 at the Harris County Courthouse, that she phoned him.
“I called him on the 24th and he said he had a terminal illness, and that’s why he deed [me] the house,” she said.
Spencer, who has known Pappas for 25 years, says she subsequently received a text message on July 30, the day one of her daughters was going to meet with him in Houston, claiming he was going to commit suicide.
“Sorry for handling this this way. House and property is now yours. Please make best use of it for you and [your daughter]”, the text read.
Upon receiving the text, Spencer phoned her daughter and the police.
She added another of her daughters, who Pappas took under his wing when the woman lived in Houston, was aware he was angry with “a doctor” over his mother’s death but she did not know any more.
Pappas also apparently tried to sell guns online days after carrying out the murder.
Five days after the killing, a stash of weapons — including two tactical vests, a .38-caliber revolver and ammunition — was listed for sale on a popular firearms website, the Houston Chronicle reported. The seller’s number was traced back to Pappas’ real estate company. It’s unclear if any of the weapons were used to kill Hausknecht.
President Bush was treated by Hausknecht in 2000 for an irregular heartbeat after he complained about lightheadedness. Bush paid tribute to him as a "fantastic cardiologist and a good man."
Fox News' Katherine Lam and Amy Lieu contributed to this report