Nancy Tyler, 57, was allegedly kidnapped by her husband, Richard Shenkman on July 7 on a Hartford street as she was heading to court for their divorce proceedings.
"He had propane pockets set up. He had a motion detector on the roof so the skylights were of no use. He had all of the doors wired so that if anybody breached the doors they would blow up," Tyler said.
Shenkman allegedly handcuffed Tyler to a bolt in a "safe" room in the basement. "I didn't know what I was going to do if I got the bolt out of the wall because I didn't know what door was safe" Tyler said. "At that moment, it was either stay and die or go, and I yanked the bolt out of the wall. I ran out of the room down the hall and into another part of the basement because there was a door at the far end of the basement. I didn't know if it was wired or not, but it was either die by a gun to my head or die going out a door hoping to escape. So I ran."
After Tyler escaped, police say that Shenkman torched the home at 96 Tumblebrook Drive, reducing it to charred rubble. Shenkman's lawyer, Hugh Keefe, said Monday that he has asked the town to preserve what's left of the home and not remove any potential evidence "until we've had a chance to evaluate it."
Shenkman faces charges filed by Hartford and South Windsor police that include kidnapping and first-degree arson. He is due to appear in Superior Court in Hartford Wednesday.
Manchester, Hartford and state police finished investigating the scene on July 10 and turned control of the property back to Tyler, South Windsor police spokesman Sgt. Scott Custer said. An orange fence has been installed around the site and police posted a warning against trespassing, Custer said. The remains of the home do smell, however, and police "would like to see it cleaned up to prevent possible injury to anyone who might be wandering through there," he said.
"Our only concern is that the site remain safe," Custer said.
Town Manager Matthew Galligan said town officials will give Keefe a three-day window to visit the site and gather evidence, but Galligan said the town also wants the place cleaned up soon and will issue an abatement order to Tyler. The site is "an attractive nuisance for kids," Galligan said.