Houston slaying suspect wrote a will, told a friend he wanted to kill himself, police document says
HOUSTON — Joseph Pappas told friends he had a terminal illness and wanted to kill himself, according to an affidavit filed by Houston police.
On Friday, the 62-year-old real estate agent did just that, shooting himself in the head as police officers tried to apprehend him, police said.
The affidavit, prepared Thursday by police, provides new details about the last days of Pappas, who was suspected in the July 20 drive-by bicycle slaying of Dr. Mark Hausknecht, a Houston cardiologist who treated former President George H.W. Bush.
The document says Pappas:
• Wrote a last will and testament, which police found in his kitchen.
• Said he wanted to commit suicide in a text sent to a Georgia woman who was visiting him in Houston.
• Told the mother of the Georgia woman that he had a terminal illness.
• Mailed the deed to his house and title for his car to that woman’s mother.
Officers who searched the house found three boxes of .22-caliber ammunition in the garage. Police found .22-caliber shell casings near the site where Hausknecht was shot to death, the affidavit says.
Police think Pappas may have killed Hausknecht as revenge because his mother died 20 years ago under the doctor’s care.
Pappas and Hausknecht were on their bicycles — with Pappas following as Hausknecht pedaled to work — when the suspect rode past the physician, turned around and fatally shot him, police said.
Police began searching for Pappas, a real estate agent and former constable, a few days ago.
On Friday morning, as officers confronted him in a residential area, Pappas shot himself in the head, Police Chief Art Acevedo said.
The affidavit, written by a Houston police investigator, said two women who were neighbors of “Joey” Pappas contacted the department July 31 and said they thought he was the person in surveillance video near the scene of the shooting.
“Both women stated … that Joey is known to ride his bicycle frequently and usually rides with a ‘full’ backpack in manner similar to the suspect captured on video surveillance that has been released by the media,” the affidavit said.
Also on July 31, police talked to a woman visiting from Georgia who was an old family friend and “had contacted Joey to see if they could get together,” the affidavit said. She told police “she received a text message from him stating he was going to kill himself,” the document says.
The affidavit doesn’t say when she received the text, or whether she talked or met with Pappas afterwards.
Police also talked to the woman’s mother, who said she received a package from Pappas containing a deed to his residence that had been filed with the Harris County District Clerk, as well as the title to his car, the affidavit said. She talked to Pappas, who said he had a terminal disease, the affidavit said, not providing details about what kind of disease.
Police went to Pappas’s house, didn’t find him there and searched the residence.
Pappas apparently positioned a large piece of metal near the front door of his residence in a way to buttress the door “against any attempt to force entry into the residence,” the affidavit said.
Police also found “a solitary piece of furniture, namely, a chair, that was located directly in front of the window that faced the front of the residence, positioned in such a way that the occupier of the chair could look directly in front of the house,” the affidavit says.
The affidavit doesn’t say why officers think the chair was placed there. And the document doesn’t provide any details about the will found in the kitchen.
The suspect’s car, a black Ford Crown Victoria, was found in the garage with the back seat removed, creating enough room for a bicycle to be placed there, the affidavit says.
In the study, police found what appears to be the draft of a police report for the theft of a 10-speed Schwinn bicycle, the affidavit said. Police know from experience that people who use vehicles in a crime often report that the vehicles were stolen at a time before the crime occurred, the affidavit said. That way they can distance themselves from the vehicle if it’s identified by witnesses.
The Georgia woman also provided police with a photo Pappas sent of his bicycle on July 23, the affidavit says. That bike and the suspect’s bike captured on video are both silver or gray, have curved handlebars, a low positioned seat and a blue bag attached to the seat.
That stolen bike report was never sent to police, the affidavit said.