Nancy P. Tyler: Will Her Nightmare Ever End?

Nancy P. Tyler
Nancy P. Tyler

Public outrage in Connecticut over Nancy Tyler’s never-ending nightmare of abuse is clear.  They want billionaire Mark Shenkman to be arrested as an accessory to a long list of domestic violence crimes committed by his brother Richard, who is Nancy’s ex-husband.  They believe this is the only way to end Mark’s enabling behavior.  I agree.  Ted Mann, a reporter for The Day, asks:    

How could a man so seemingly obsessed have been let free to do his target harm?    

. . .in Shenkman’s case, with the assistance of affluent family members who have apparently assisted him with his court costs and bond payments, he has always been able to get free.    

. . .It will now fall to. . .his brother, Mark, a University of Connecticut benefactor and founder of the $8.5 billion investment firm Shenkman Capital Management, to decide whether to continue to enable their relative’s release from jail as he awaits another trial.    

Nancy’s story was on The Today Show this morning.  After researching this story extensively, I am livid that Richard Jay Shenkman has been allowed to so deftly manipulate the legal system as an instrument of abuse.  He was out on $10 million bail when he allegedly kidnapped Nancy on Tuesday (July 7), held her hostage, and burned their house to the ground.  She had several orders of protection.  Yet, the onus remains on her to keep herself safe.    

It wasn’t the first time Richard allegedly burned one of the couples’ houses to the ground.  I have to use the word “allegedly” because Richard has yet to stand trial for any of his criminal offenses.  And, his brother keeps giving him a “get out of jail free” card by posting whatever bond the judges assess.  (Update:  Richard’s bail was revoked.  He’s been held in contempt of court for failing to pay Ms. Tyler money as ordered by the judge in their divorce judgment.)   


Richard Jay Shenkman is a classic pit bull.  Norman A. Pattis, who is one of Nancy’s attorneys, described Richard Shenkman as:    

. . .a severely entitled man who thinks the world owes him whatever his heart desires. . .Nancy said no.  The court said no.  And in the time-honored tradition of a classic 2-year-old, he decided he would show the world who is boss.    

When Nancy filed for divorce on July 19, 2006, her nightmare began.  In her request for her first order of protection she stated:     

. . .We tried marital therapy. . .told him the marriage is over.  As soon as I told him this, he began a campaign to intimidate me into staying. . .I have only one choice:  stay with him or accept the consequences. . .My husband has a gun permit and claims to have a gun. . .     

Richard did everything possible to thwart the process including checking himself into a Texas mental hospital.  John Harvey, Jr., Nancy’s divorce attorney, said it was clear Richard was “gaming the system.”  The papers fill three “battered and bulging legal binders.”    

Before she filed for divorce, Nancy moved in with her sister for six months before relocating to her 115-year-old Victorian beach cottage in Niantic.  She owned the house, and it was awarded to her by Judge Jorge Simon.  Richard was arrested for burning the house down on March 5, 2007, the day he was ordered to surrender possession of the house to Nancy.  The case is still pending, and his next scheduled court appearance is on August 12.  Another case related to the insurance proceeds is also pending.  (See a pattern here?)    

While their divorce case was pending, Richard left more than a dozen threatening voice-mail messages for Nancy and sent a flurry of e-mail messages to Nancy’s attorneys which caused Superior Court Judge Herbert Barall to loose his patience with Richard:    

What are you, stupid?    

. . .in these e-mails, you’re saying that you would create problems, leave everything in debt.  [dissipation of marital assets]    

Richard was arrested in July, 2008 for threatening his wife and violating protection orders.  The case is still pending.  He appealed the trial court’s decision to the appellate court and lost.    

It appears he plotted for eight months to kidnap Nancy and burn down their home in South Windsor.  He implemented his plan on Tuesday (click here for a timeline).  The couple was scheduled to be in Family Court in Hartford where he would either surrender their home to Nancy or go to jail for contempt of court.    

Richard allegedly kidnapped Nancy outside her offices in Hartford’s City Place.  Nancy had spotted Richard and called a friend who alerted police.  Richard grabbed the phone and screamed, “I’ve got a gun.”  The South Windsor police department was dispatched to the couple’s home where they found six video cameras.  Richard claims the house was wired with 65 pounds of explosives.  There are rumors the basement of the house was a fireproof bunker.  Matthew Reed of the South Windsor police force described what they saw:    

It looked like it had been fortified. . .as if he had been preparing for some sort of a standoff.    

The standoff with police lasted 13 hours.  Richard held Nancy captive for about 9 1/2 hours before she was able to set herself free.  Richard had handcuffed her to the wall of the basement and spent the day threatening to kill her.  Nancy spent the day praying:    

Every time he got crazy and agitated, he got the gun.  He started waving it around and slapping me in the head.  I truly don’t know why he didn’t kill me. . .I was lying against the wall thinking, “I’m going to let him do it.”    

Karen Florin, a reporter for The Day, was immersed in the hostage drama.  You can watch a video of the bizarre phone calls Richard made to her by clicking here.  One of Richard’s 12 demands was for the couple to be remarried by Judge Jorge Simon, who had divorced them.  When Ms. Florin asked Richard why he was holding Nancy hostage, he responded with typical pit bull logic:    

Because she had her head on my shoulder.  I’ve waited 3 years for that, and it was worth it.  On my last day it was worth it to me.    

There is evidence Richard was on a suicide mission.  Ms. Florin later recounted Nancy’s ordeal in chilling detail:    

Nancy P. Tyler said she seized the opportunity to save her own life.    

. . .unscrewed an eye-bolt that tethered her to the wall and ran out the basement door. . .    

She ran across the yard and was climbing a fence to escape when a man in camouflage gear appeared like an “angel from war” and grabbed her.  They ran to the police command center “with lots of cover,” and she finally was safe.    

. . .her car was destroyed. . .her cell phone was missing and Tyler knew she would have to find a good crisis counselor.    

But she had survived.    

Another reporter observed the impression of the barrel of a gun on her face.    

96 Tumblebrook Drive

96 Tumblebrook Drive

About an hour later, witnesses heard dozens of gunshots and explosions.  The house was ablaze.  As you can see, the chimneys are all that remains of the house.    

Is Nancy Tyler’s nightmare over?  I doubt it.  Arrest and court records hold abundant evidence that Richard intends to kill Nancy.  The clear pattern is that his brother will pay the bail, Richard will be released, and the court proceedings will drag on and on.  Even if he is convicted, Nancy fears the day he will be released from prison.  Richard has threatened too many times:    

You can only get your divorce one way, and that’s death.  You can only be unmarried by death.    

Nancy Tyler is a medical malpractice attorney.  She and Richard were co-owners of Prime Media, an events firm that produced a television show for Gayle King, Oprah’s best friend, as well as OpSail 2000 and New London’s Boats, Books and Brushes festival.    

Note:  You can read updates to this story by clicking here and here

10 responses to “Nancy P. Tyler: Will Her Nightmare Ever End?

  1. Pingback: “Creaming:” Why DV Victims Don’t Get Help « Anne Caroline Drake·

  2. This is one of those examples Saddleback Church needs to take a look at when they say HITTING is the only true example of danger.

    I pray this women has peace at sometime during the future.

  3. Me too, Hannah.

    You’ve got a wonderful site with many excellent book recommendations. I’m going to add you to my blogroll for those seeking more information about faith and domestic violence.

  4. Pingback: Wrongfuldeath Blogg·

  5. For Nancy Tyler, your amazing story not only sends a message to those who face domestic violence but also those who face end of life issues such as cancer. At 48, with a 12 year old at home and an 18 year old going to college with several emotional issues holding on, I am reminded by your story to live all of my remaining moments in the moment and to the fullest extent I can manage. Thank you so much for your story.

  6. Ms. Koach,

    Your comment grabbed my heart. There is an inextricable link between cancer and the experience of domestic violence. It speaks to the tremendous toll stress takes on our bodies.

    And, it is a cruel way to learn the importance of living each day to the fullest. My prayer for you is that you and your children will be abundantly blessed with superb medical care as well as delightful experiences and beautiful memories.

    Sending hugs and best wishes,
    Anne Caroline

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