NEW LONDON—Detectives questioned Charles Buck for four hours about the suspicious death of his schoolteacher wife on Tuesday in what police were calling a routine part of an investigation into a highly unusual incident.
Stonington police were still investigating the death of Leslie Buck, 57, a teacher at Dean's Mill School, as a suspicious death, not a homicide, and said they did not know if she died from injuries sustained when she was kidnapped two days earlier.
One of Charles Buck's friends, Russell Kirby, 64, of Ledyard, is accused of using a stun gun to subdue and abduct Buck from her Mystic home Thursday night. She managed to escape and Kirby was arrested early Friday.
The self-employed landscaper and mechanic was being held in lieu of $250,000 bail in Corrigan Correctional Institution in Montville at the time that Charles Buck said he found his wife dead in their home Saturday evening.
Detectives were awaiting more detailed autopsy information from the state medical examiner's office. The preliminary report concluded Buck died from head injuries, but a time and manner of death were still being investigated.
The medical examiner was awaiting the results of the toxicology examination before issuing her final report, said Malka Shah, the associate examiner in charge of the Buck case. The first round of toxicology results will be available in four weeks.
The final report on Buck could be available as early as June or as late as July.
In general, Shah said it was unusual, but not impossible, for serious head injuries to result in death several days later. That patient would most likely experience vomiting, dizziness and blurry vision before the cranial swelling became fatal, she said.
Charles Buck said his wife was tired and had difficulty pulling the covers up over herself when they went to bed Friday night, but said she felt all right when he left her on Saturday to go to his electrical contracting office for a few hours.
When he left, Buck said his wife was reading in the couple's backyard.
Hospitals generally admit patients who suffer head trauma for observation for 24 to 36 hours to make sure there is no internal bleeding that could put pressure on the brain, Shah said. Buck was back at work less than half a day after the attack.
Buck was taken by ambulance to Lawrence & Memorial Hospital in New London after she reported the attack to the police. She told her colleagues at Dean's Mill School Friday that she was tired and sore, but felt good enough to go back to work.
A hospital spokeswoman would not discuss Buck's treatment or reveal whether a doctor advised Buck to remain in the hospital for observation. The hospital is "satisfied that appropriate quality care was provided,'' said spokeswoman Alina Stankiewicz.
Stankiewicz would not say if Buck signed a release to leave the hospital against a doctor's advice. Stankiewicz would say only that the hospital followed its "standard practice.''
With help from the state police and Ledyard officers, Stonington police were leading the investigation into Buck's suspicious death and her alleged kidnapping. Ledyard and state police spent Tuesday afternoon searching Kirby's home and truck.
Kirby lives in a rundown, one-story blue home in the southern, rural tip of town. The isolated neighborhood on Long Pond Road is dotted with modest cottages and one-room lakeside shacks.
His neighbors described the former Electric Boat worker as a little odd, but said the longtime neighborhood handyman was always helpful, sometimes reclusive and at times a little bit chatty. They said he seemed incapable of kidnapping anyone.
"He was a loner, kept to himself,'' said Gary Howells, 45, who lived a few houses down the road from Kirby. "He would speak to you occasionally if you happened to see him.''
Charles Buck was one of many people the police have interviewed in relation to Leslie Buck's death, including her brother, colleagues and next-door neighbors, Erskine said. Buck, a local electrician and volunteer firefighter, came to the police station Tuesday afternoon of his own volition and was not considered a suspect, Erskine added. Police had no suspects in Buck's death.