Cops Subpoena Patient Records for Clues in Therapist Murder

New York City police are trying to subpoena the medical records of slain psychotherapist Kathryn Faughey, in an attempt to learn more about her patients, and whether one of them can be linked to her brutal killing, police officials said.

The records must be subpoenaed due to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, HIPA, which blocks NYPD investigators from gaining access to the patient records, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said today. But officials said the manhunt continues, with detectives enlisting the doctor's assistants to track down patients, and reviewing sign-in sheets at the building's front desk, said Kelly.

After eight hours of interrogation, William Kunsman, thought to be a possible suspect in Faughey's murder, retained a lawyer and was released Thursday by the NYPD without charges.


"We wanted to talk to him and we have," police sources told WABC's NJ Burkett. "We do not anticipate anything imminent with respect to him, or anybody else. The forensics will take a while."

A trail of e-mails and phone calls initially led police to Kunsman. Kunsman also was picked out from a photo by one witness, and is also bi-polar — a personality disorder, marked by powerful mood swings — two factors that spurred police to question him.

"Leaving his hair aside, he has similar facial characteristics as the suspect in the sketch," a police source told WABC. "He is also bi-polar and out of money, and had e-mailed her several times before the crime."

One clue that still troubles detectives: adult diapers found at the scene in one of the suitcases Kunsman was seen on video surveillance wheeling in, come from a batch that were sent to just five stores in three states: New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. And the only store in the entire state of Pennsylvania that sold the unique brand of diapers found in Faughey's building is in Kunsman's hometown of Coplay, Pa., according to WABC.

Police maintain that the "universe" of possible suspects is still broad and that they "have no eliminated patients" from the investigation.

A trail of e-mails and phone calls initially led police to Kunsman, whose picture also was picked out of a photo lineup by a surviving victim, police sources said. But by Thursday evening police and prosecutors did not feel they had the evidence needed to charge Kunsman in the crime.

Kunsman, who met the victim and her husband six years ago at a guitar camp, denied any involvement in the murder during an interview with WABC's NJ Burkett, and says he was at his home in Bethlehem, Pa., when the assault took place. His wife, Lynn, backs up his claim.

Kunsman, 43, voluntarily surrendered to police before dawn Thursday morning. He was questioned by New York detectives at the Pennsylvania State Police barracks in Bethlehem.

At that time, police and New York City prosecutors were waiting for the results of tests on forensic evidence gathered at the crime scene. Some of those items included adult diapers, a bag of knives, women's clothing, rope and duct tape — left behind by a man who hacked Faughey to death.

The manhunt that led to Kunsman's questioning was launched after Faughey was hacked and stabbed to death in her office on Manhattan's Upper East Side Tuesday night. Fellow psychotherapist Kent Shinbach was severely injured by the attacker when he attempted to rush to her rescue. It was Shinbach who sources said picked Kunsman out of a photo lineup.

"The reasons they had for questioning me were valid," Kunsman, of Coplay, Pa., told WABC, adding that he was "extremely saddened" to hear of her death. "I've been in more contact with Kathryn lately. I've been speaking to her a lot lately on the phone and by e-mail. I guess that's what led them here."

He last spoke to her Tuesday afternoon but declined to say what their conversation was about. "That's personal. She was just being a friend," he told WABC.

Police said Faughey was stabbed with such fury that at least one knife used in the attack was bent from the force of the thrust and the handle of a meat cleaver used in the attack was jarred loose.

The rope, the duct tape and the adult diapers that the killer left behind suggest that the murderer may have intended to kidnap or torture Faughey before actually killing her, said N.G. Berrill, a forensic psychologist and director of the New York Center for Neuropsychology and Forensic Behavioral Science.

"It's possible [the killer] had some elaborate fantasy of kidnapping or torturing [Faughey]," said Berrill. "There is power implicit in all of this."

Berrill said that the killer may have intended to use the diapers to humiliate the doctor.

"What would be more infantilizing than keeping her in such a way that she couldn't use the toilet and would have to soil herself?" said Berrill, who added that some psychopaths also have an obsession or fear of germs, which could explain why he would provide the diapers in the first place.

It's also possible that the killer had some sort of personal relationship with Faughey, said Berrill, who said that in his experience he's rarely seen upset spouses actually act out their anger toward their therapists.

"This kind of violence is too intimate. I would think there is a more primary relationship in this situation because of the in-your-face violence," said Berrill, who said it's likely the killer had scouted out the building before committing the crime. "A boyfriend or a husband of a patient wouldn't have been as angry — they like to make threats more."

The killer was caught on the building's surveillance cameras and was seen entering the main entrance rolling one suitcase and carrying another. He was spotted about an hour later exiting through a basement door. Police describe him as a balding, middle-age man clad in a three-quarter-length green coat, knit cap and gloves.

< WABC's RJ Burkett contributed to this report