Slaying of Gladstone psychiatrist stuns her friends

Friends and colleagues of Irina Puscariu continued to reel this week following the shooting death of the Kansas City-area psychiatrist on Friday.

Shannon O’Roark Griffin, 52, of Granbury, Texas, has been charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action after allegedly killing Puscariu in the doctor’s Gladstone home.

O’Roark Griffin remained jailed Tuesday in Sedgwick County, Kan., after being arrested Friday in southern Kansas.

The story told by court documents and colleagues describe the victim as an accomplished doctor from Romania, admired by her peers and patients, but allegedly considered an “evil woman” by O’Roark Griffin.

The defendant’s husband, Roscoe Griffin, is a senior aerospace instructor with the Air Force Junior ROTC program in the Lyons School District in central Kansas.

That’s where the tragedy began Friday.

According to court records:

Roscoe and Shannon O’Roark Griffin met with a therapist in Great Bend, Kan. Roscoe Griffin told his wife that “he would not give I. Puscariu up,” and O’Roark Griffin left the meeting.

Roscoe Griffin later spoke by phone with his wife and separately with Puscariu to discuss possible scenarios going forward, with divorce being one option. Later Roscoe Griffin called his wife back and told her to “go ahead with the divorce.”

He then went home.

Meanwhile, O‘Roark Griffin apparently drove about 250 miles from central Kansas to the psychiatrist’s home on White Oak Lane in Gladstone, where Puscariu lived with her mother, Aneta.

Aneta Puscariu later told authorities that her daughter answered the doorbell and let a woman inside. The woman, she said, pulled out a gun and shot her daughter three times from a distance of about four feet, and then left.

Just after 2 p.m. Gladstone police received a call from Roscoe Griffin, saying that his daughter had just called him, saying that “Mom” had just called her saying that she had shot “Irina.”

Roscoe Griffin called Irina Puscariu’s home and learned from her mother that Puscariu was dead.

O’Roark Griffin then called her husband and said she had shot and killed Puscariu, saying that the psychiatrist “was not going to ever hurt anyone else again,” later adding that she had shot Puscariu to “protect him and others from the evil woman.”

Later Friday, Aneta Puscariu selected a photograph of O’Roark Griffin from six photographs shown her by Gladstone authorities, who already had advised the Kansas Highway Patrol of possible routes being taken by the alleged shooter. A Kansas Highway Patrol captain recognized O’Roark Griffin’s vehicle headed south on Interstate 35 and stopped her without incident about 5 p.m. Friday.

Puscariu was respected by area mental health colleagues.

She was a resident in the University of Kansas Medical Center psychiatric program from July 1997 through June 2001. In 2000, as a fourth-year resident, she interviewed Todd Hill, today a Kansas City-area psychiatrist, for a resident position. Puscariu, Hill said, went on to work as a consultant psychiatrist at North Kansas City Hospital.

She later left, Hill said, to take a position at the Kansas City Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

“She was a hard worker but it is a big position at North Kansas City Hospital and she was wanting some more regular hours,” Hill said.

“I know that the staff there had nothing but good things to say about her. She was a trusted colleague, well-liked and dedicated.”

Staff members and patients at the Kansas City Veterans Affairs hospital are devastated by the news, added Glenna Greer, medical center spokeswoman.

“She was very appreciated and loved by her patients and employees,” said Greer, who added that Puscariu had been affiliated with the hospital for about five years.

In 2010, Puscariu was divorced from Gene Franklin, a Gladstone tax preparer who was convicted in 2008 of preparing fraudulent tax returns. Franklin, who was released from federal custody in May, could not be reached for comment.

At some point Puscariu met Roscoe Griffin. Since October, 2010 Griffin has served as senior aerospace instructor with the Air Force Junior ROTC program in the Lyons district, said Gary Sechrist, district superintendent. Griffin teaches district high school students and is a retired Air Force colonel, said Sechrist, who declined further comment.

On a social networking site, O’Roark Griffin identified herself as a retired aerospace engineer who served as a training specialist for space shuttle systems at the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston from 1980 through 1993.

About 14 months ago, she and her husband moved to a gated community in Granbury, in north-central Texas, said Lewis Denson Moody, who lives across the street. Often, Moody said, O’Roark Griffin would leave Granbury to visit her husband for extended periods.

“She lived up there with him for a while, but I think she didn’t particularly like living on a farm,” said Moody. “So she lived down here and he stayed up there and worked. He came down here two or three times last summer.”

Moody’s most recent visit with O’Roark Griffin, he said, was just a few days before Christmas.