Crime

Former NASA employee gets 20 years in Gladstone slaying

Shannon O’Roark Griffin
Shannon O’Roark Griffin

A former NASA training specialist who drove 250 miles from central Kansas to Gladstone to kill her husband’s mistress was sentenced Friday to 20 years in prison.

Shannon O’Roark, 55, had pleaded guilty Nov. 21 to second-degree murder and armed criminal action in the 2012 shooting death of Irina Puscariu, a well-known and respected psychiatrist who immigrated from Romania.

At the sentencing, O’Roark apologized and said the incident occurred while her marriage unraveled and she suffered from depression.

“I have killed someone. I can’t undo this,” she said before being sentenced. “I can’t pay restitution for this and I am sorry.”

Circuit Judge Larry D. Harman sentenced her to 20 years on each count, to be served concurrently.

O’Roark is a retired aerospace engineer who served as a training specialist for space shuttle systems at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston from 1980 through 1993. At the time of the shooting, O’Roark lived in Granbury, Texas.

According to court records, when O’Roark and her then-husband, Roscoe Griffin, met with a therapist in Great Bend, Kan., her husband told O’Roark that he would not give up Puscariu.

O’Roark, who went by the name Shannon O’Roark Griffin at the time, left the meeting.

Griffin later spoke separately with his wife and Puscariu to discuss possible scenarios, with divorce as an option. Later, Griffin called his wife and told her to proceed with the divorce.

On Jan. 13, 2012, O’Roark drove from central Kansas to Puscariu’s home in Gladstone, where the psychiatrist lived with her mother, Aneta.

Aneta Puscariu later told investigators that her daughter answered the doorbell and let a woman inside. That woman, later identified as O’Roark, pulled out a gun and shot the victim four times in the head from about 4 feet away. O’Roark fired the final gunshot as she stood over Puscariu.

Hours later, Gladstone police received a call from Griffin. He said his daughter had just called him to say that “Mom” had called her and said she had shot “Irina.”

Griffin called Irina Puscariu’s home and learned from her mother that Puscariu was dead. A Kansas Highway Patrol captain saw O’Roark’s vehicle headed south on Interstate 35 and stopped her without incident.

To reach Glenn E. Rice, call 816-234-4341 or send email to grice@kcstar.com.

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