BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Neighbors say surgeon Timothy Jorden was meticulous about his work, his appearance and even the landscaping at his home.
So they suspected something was askew in his life this spring when he began putting less effort into things he previously approached with such care. The affable doctor also became less friendly and dropped about 75 pounds, they said.
They learned this week that police nationwide are searching for Jorden — also a military-trained weapons expert — following the audacious fatal shooting of his ex-girlfriend in a stairwell at the hospital where they both worked. They now wonder if the odd shift in his personality is somehow connected to the death of administrative assistant Jacqueline Wisniewski.
"I saw him at the beginning of the season and noticed how much weight he had lost," said June DuPree, a neighbor of Jorden's in an exclusive cluster of homes on a lakefront bluff. "He said, 'Yeah, I lost a little bit.' But it was more than a little bit. It was a lot. He wasn't too friendly that time I saw him. He just didn't want to talk."
In his Lakeview neighborhood south of Buffalo, Jorden clearly spent a lot of money to keep the grounds of his white, gabled home by the lake manicured and lush, residents say. But this spring, Jorden's bushes became overgrown, his grass grew knee-high and a kitchen remodeling job was halted.
"He had a lot of money invested in his house and the landscaping. And when I came back from Florida in May, it was really neglected. I was just shocked," neighbor Tom Wrzosek said.
"We presumed he was sick, that maybe he had some sort of major ailment," Wrzosek said.
"He was sick," he said. "But not in the way we thought he was sick."
Police across the country were on the lookout Thursday for the 49-year-old trauma surgeon. They say the former Army weapons expert may be armed and should be considered dangerous.
"He was an excellent surgeon. He saved so many lives. For him to take one is unreal," DuPree said.
The search for Jorden began Wednesday morning when the 33-year-old Wisniewski was found shot to death in a stairwell on the campus of the Erie County Medical Center. Police say she was shot four times.
Heather Shipley, a friend of Wisniewski's, told WIVB-TV that Wisniewski feared Jorden and that he wouldn't let go after she left him because she believed he was having affairs with other women.
She said Wisniewski told her the doctor had put a GPS tracking device in her car and once held her captive in her home for a day and a half, wielding a knife.
"She told me if anything happened to her, that it was him," Shipley told the station.
Jorden had been involved in two domestic incidents in neighboring Cheektowaga in 2003, police Capt. James Speyer said. He said that he couldn't release details but that the incidents did not involve Wisniewski.
Buffalo Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda on Thursday said a nationwide alert had been issued advising police agencies that he was wanted for questioning. Officers combed through the grounds outside his home, and for a second day, an Erie County Sheriff's helicopter circled overhead.
Derenda said all of Jorden's vehicles were accounted for and investigators were certain he had not crossed the nearby border into Canada.
"He's out there somewhere," he said.
The search comes after a lifetime of achievement for the divorced father of a grown son.
Jorden had been profiled in The Buffalo News as a homegrown success story in 1996 and was among those honored with Buffalo's Black Achievers in Industry award in 2002. As a surgeon at the city's main trauma hospital, he worked long hours and was always ready to respond to a hospital emergency when his cellphone rang.