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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The Unraveling of Dr. Timothy Jorden

     Dr. Timothy Jorden, a 49-year-old trauma surgeon at the Erie County Medical Center in Buffalo, New York, lived in a suburban luxury home overlooking Lake Erie. After high school, a stint in the U.S. Army, and college, the clean-cut ex-military weapons specialist graduated from the University of Buffalo Medical School. In 2004, he was certified by the American Board of Surgery. His colleagues at the Erie County Medical Center considered Dr. Jorden a gifted surgeon who had saved several lives. Dr. Jorden epitomized achievement and success.

     Dr. Jorden's grip on reality and the good life began slipping away after his live-in girlfriend, 33-year-old Jacqueline Wisnieski, an administrated assistant at the hospital, moved out of his house in Lake View, New York. Believing that Dr. Jorden was having affairs with other women, Wisnieski broke off the relationship. The doctor refused to accept this new reality.

     Dr. Jorden, following the break-up, began stalking Wisnieski, and at one point, held her hostage at knife point in her home for a day and a half. (She apparently didn't report this assault and kidnapping to the police.) The obsessed and disturbed physician attached a GPS tracking device to Wisnieski's car to keep tabs on her. At this point, Wisnieski confided to another doctor that she feared for her life. This was probably the reason she didn't notify the authorities. Who would believe this woman over the word of a successful surgeon?

     By June 2012, Dr. Jorden, uncharacteristically unkempt, sporting a shaggy beard, and 75 pounds lighter, was showing physical signs that he was slipping into some kind of dementia. To his friends and fellow employees, he seemed depressed, preoccupied, and distracted. On Wednesday, June 13, 2012, the doctor arrived at work carrying a shotgun and a .357-Magnum revolver. He somehow lured Wisnieski into the hospital basement where, in the stairwell, he shot her five times at close range.

     After killing his ex-girlfriend, the deranged physician drove home, arriving at the Lake View house 30 minutes after the murder. Four minutes later, he came out of his house and entered a path that led into the woods behind the dwelling. (This was caught on his home video surveillance system.) It was here, in a patch of thick brush, that the surgeon put his .357-Magnum to his head and pulled the trigger.

     Back at the hospital, police combed the complex for the doctor, unaware that he lay dead in the woods overlooking Lake Erie. The next day, a SWAT team and a canine unit searched the doctor's property without finding his body. On Friday morning, June 15, 2012, police officers, acting on a tip from one of Dr. Jorden's neighbors who said he had heard a gun go off Wednesday morning behind the doctor's house, found his body. Dr. Jorden did not leave a suicide note.

     Dr. Jorden's acquaintances recalled how in the days preceding the murder, he had given away personal belongings to friends and family. On the day before he killed Jacqueline Wisnieski, Dr. Jorden had withdrawn $30,000 from his bank account.

     In cases where prominent, respected people shock the community by committing murder, the media focuses almost entirely on the killer. The reportage is usually laden with quotes from friends and colleagues who can't believe this person was capable of such an act. While the victim's friends and family are also wondering how this has happened, most of the media angst is about the lose of this special person to the community. The victim's story is often left untold. 

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