Friends of the hospital receptionist allegedly shot dead at point-blank range by a prominent surgeon have revealed she was ‘deathly afraid’ of the man, her former boyfriend.
Jacqueline Wisniewski, 33, was lured into a stairwell at the Erie County Medical Center in Buffalo, New York on Wednesday morning and shot multiple times in the head and upper body, police said.
The woman, who had a young son and was training to be a nurse, was allegedly gunned down by her ex-boyfriend Timothy V. Jorden, a former Army weapons expert who is still at large.
Her friends have now revealed that Wisniewski had been in an abusive relationship with the man, who allegedly stalked her and once held her captive in her home, wielding a knife.
‘She told me, “I’m scared”,’ her friend, Heather Shipley, told the Buffalo News. ‘She said: “If anything happens to me, you know who did it”.’
Shipley said Wisniewski had lived with Jorden but left him as she believed he was having affairs with other women. When they broke up after more than a year of dating, he refused to move on.
Wisniewski said the surgeon had put a GPS tracking device in her car to keep track of her movements. After she discovered the device, she filed a police report, Shipley said.
‘[He] knew everywhere she was going,’ Shipley told WIVB. ‘He was driving by her house, sitting in the parking lot across from her street, stalking her.’
On another occasion, he held her captive in her home for a day and a half with a knife and stabbing her deep enough to draw blood, the friend said. He also once gave her a black eye, she said.
‘He threatened to kill her a couple of times,’ Shipley added. ‘But I think in her mind she wouldn’t believe it would actually happen.’
But she added: ‘She was afraid of him. She was deathly afraid of him.’
Shipley said she believed her friend did not speak out more as she loved him. ‘She didn’t want to get him in trouble because he was a surgeon and she didn’t want to ruin his reputation,’ she explained.
Wisniewski’s boss at ECMC’s Adolescent Psychiatric Unit, Dori R. Marshall, said the woman had told her she was in an abusive situation with a physician, but did not name him
Cheektowaga police told the News that Jorden had been involved in two domestic incidents in 2003. ‘It didn’t involve this victim,’ said Capt. James J. Speyer Jr. ‘It was other people.’
The 49-year-old prominent trauma surgeon and former Army medic has eluded authorities since the shooting on Wednesday morning.
Witnesses reported hearing four shots just after 8 a.m. Ms Wisniewski’s body was found in a covered passageway connecting the Kidney Center and another wing of the hospital.
The shooting prompted a four-hour lockdown of the hospital, as SWAT teams and K-9 units swarmed the campus in an attempt to corner the killer.
Authorities blocked a road leading to Jorden’s home in an isolated area of private Lake View residences near the Lake Erie shore.
Officers obtained a warrant and used specialised robotic devices to enter and search the home. But hours later, they determined he was not inside.
SWAT team members in camouflage arrived in unmarked SUVs and say he may be armed and dangerous.
Police believe Jorden, who they have named as a ‘person of interest’, could be ‘special weapons trained’ from his time in the Army.
While many have described him as a popular surgeon, sources told the Buffalo News that he has recently suffered some emotional problems and it is believed he had recently lost 75 pounds.
‘He might have been having mental health issues,’ a police official told the News. Another official suggested he might have ‘some type of serious physical ailment that caused the drastic weight loss’.
Sources added that it appeared the man had been living in his office as food containers and dirty laundry were found in the ceiling.
Neighbours said he started losing the weight around three months ago, when they also began seeing him at the home less frequently.
Officials said as many as 400 patients and about half of the hospital’s 2,000 employees were on the grounds at the time of the deadly shooting.
‘The SWAT Team is in control of the situation,’ Buffalo police spokesman Michael J. DeGeorge said during a news conference after the shooting. ‘It is an active situation.’
The hospital also diverted emergency room patients to Buffalo General Hospital but most of the campus re-opened at 2 p.m.
‘Normally this is very safe,’ hospital volunteer Lois Peterson told the Buffalo News. ‘I’ve volunteered here for 42 years. But this is tragic.’
Police described Jorden as a bald, black male, about 6ft 2 and 250 pounds, and showed his photograph at check points in the search for tips. Authorities also described the four vehicles – two GMC Sierra pickups, a Cadillac and a Chevrolet Cobalt – registered in his name.
After completing high school, Jorden joined the Army and served with the Army’s Special Forces, as a weapons expert then as a medic.
His military career spanned 18 years and he served in the Caribbean, Japan and Korea.
He earned numerous medals including the Army Achievement Medal, Army Commendation Medal and Master Parachute Badge Scuba Diver Badge Special Forces Tab, ABC reported.
Francisca Wellsbury, who was married to Jorden before they divorce, told ABC she was shocked her former husband was the suspect.
‘We’ve lived separate lives for a long time,’ Wellsbury, who lives on the West Coast, said. ‘I’m just as shocked as anyone. It’s traumatic.’
She added: ‘This is not the person I knew. I wish he would seek help.’
Jorden has been licensed to practice medicine in New York since 2002 and treats patients at the medical center and other major hospitals in the area.
‘I’ve wanted to be a doctor since early in my military career as a medic,’ Jorden told the Buffalo News in a 1996 profile, which featured pictures of his wife and their son.
He received his certification from the American Board of Surgery in 2004. There are no legal actions against his license and he has no criminal background.