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Dead Houston murder suspect gave home to Painesville woman

August 4, 2018

Dead Houston murder suspect gave home to Painesville woman

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Three days after being linked to the death of a noted Houston cardiologist, Joseph Pappas gave his $270,000 Texas home to a Painesville woman.

Authorities are investigating the transaction as part of a larger examination of Pappas’s suspected role in the murder.

The 62-year-old committed suicide Friday when police officers approached him a few miles from his home to question him about the slaying of Dr. Mark Hausknecht on July 20, according to published reports.

The doctor was shot while riding his bicycle to work at Houston Methodist Hospital. The Associated Press reported that police said Pappas also was riding a bicycle when he allegedly fired at Hausknecht, 65.

The death ended a large-scale manhunt across Houston neighborhoods. Police told the Associated Press that Pappas may have acted out of revenge, as Hausknecht had treated Pappas’ mother in the 1990s. She died in 1997.

In 2000, Hausknecht had treated former President George H.W. Bush for an irregular heartbeat.

Records filed with the Harris County, Texas, Clerk’s Office show Pappas deeded his brick home to Jeanette Spencer on July 23. It appears that Pappas originally sought to make the transaction Feb. 9, 2017, but that paperwork was not filed until last Monday.

Several attempts to reach the Harris County Clerk’s Office were unsuccessful.

Neither Spencer nor members of her family could be reached for comment. However, Spencer told The News-Herald of Willoughby that she knew Pappas for years and considered him a good friend of her family. He was close to one of Spencer’s daughters.

A day after Pappas gave the home to Spencer, she called him.

“He said he had a terminal illness, and that’s why he deeded [me] the house,″ Spencer told the newspaper.

On Monday, Pappas texted Spencer that he was going to commit suicide, The News-Herald reported.

“Sorry for handling things this way,″ the text said. “House and property is [sic] now yours. Please make best use of it for you and [your daughter].″

A published report said Spencer contacted police and requested they check on Pappas, a former police officer. Officers searched his home and found evidence that tied him to the slaying, according to the Associated Press. But they could not locate Pappas for days.

Art Acevedo, the Houston police chief, told reporters that a resident appeared to recognize Pappas on Friday morning. Acevedo said the resident chased Pappas. He got away, but he dropped his wallet, allowing police to make a positive identification.

Officers later spotted Pappas, and approached him. Pappas shot himself in the head, according to the Associated Press. The wire service reported that Pappas was wearing body armor when he took his life.

Plain Dealer reporter Jo Ellen Corrigan contributed to this story.

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