A Massachusetts surgeon has been charged with the murder of his wife—just months after she had gone to police to report violent abuse.
Kathleen McLean, 45, was found dead late Saturday night in an “outdoor area not far from her home,” according to the Norfolk District Attorney’s Office.
The Massachusetts State Police, Dover Police and Dedham Police had been investigating McLean’s disappearance when “information” developed about her “possible location” led police to discover her body Saturday night around 11 p.m..
She was last seen alive in her home on Thursday evening, according to the Norfolk District Attorney’s Office.
Dr. Ingolf Tuerk, a former top surgeon at St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center and one-time Olympic star in East Germany, has been arrested and charged with her murder.
Tuerk and McLean, who got married late last year, had been together for more than two years at the time of the slaying—although the couple’s brief marriage had allegedly been marred by violence, according to The Boston Globe.
Months before she died, McLean had accused Tuerk of physically abusing her in a Dover police report filed Feb. 3. At the time, she told police of several disturbing incidents that had taken place in the previous few months, including a night in December where Tuerk allegedly slammed her head into the couple’s headboard and tried to strangle her while using his other hand to cover her nose and mouth, according to the report.
“McLean stated that she felt like ‘she had trouble breathing and though she was going to die’ and ‘everything went black,’” the police report said. “During the incident she screamed and one of her kids heard her.”
She also recounted another alleged incident in January where she said Tuerk picked her up and threw her to the ground so hard her shoes were knocked off.
On a third occasion she alleged that Tuerk grabbed a pair of scissors before telling her “I am the king of this castle … you are only a guest” and then cutting off a small piece of her hair. The scissors also sliced her hand as she tried to fight him off while her son looked on, she told police.
McLean secured a restraining order against Tuerk and was seeking a divorce; however, she appeared to have a change of heart earlier this month.
In court papers filed May 2, she said she wanted the restraining order to be vacated and no longer wanted to pursue criminal charges in the case.
“I feel safe and would like to bring my family back together with my husband,” she wrote in the court affidavit obtained by The Globe. “My goal is to salvage our family including reuniting my husband as father and stepfather to my children.”
But just weeks later, she was dead.
McLean’s friend Danielle Boland told MassLive the couple’s marriage started to decline after Tuerk got into trouble with the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office.
According to a statement from the Attorney General’s Office, Tuerk allegedly “caused his employer to inappropriately bill the state’s Medicaid Program (MassHealth) for portions of surgical procedures that never took place and office visits that he did not attend or supervise.”
The attorney’s office alleged that Tuerk instructed his residents and fellows to report an ultrasound probe had been used in procedures even if they had not been used in his surgeries. Tuerk was also accused of using medical billing codes that indicated he was present or supervising other medical professionals even if he wasn’t in the room.
He later agreed to pay $150,000 to resolve the allegations against him, the attorney general’s office said.
Tuerk had once been considered a star of the region’s medical community, according to The Boston Globe, once appearing on a billboard for St. Elizabeth’s along the Massachusetts Turnpike and also appearing in a video profile for Steward Health Care.
He also once served as a member of the East German Olympic decathlon team in 1980 before turning his focus to medicine.
But his deteriorating career allegedly put a strain on the couple’s marriage, according to those who knew McLean.
He was formally terminated from the Steward Medical group, which operates the St. Elizabeth Medical Center in February, according to the paper.
Larry Corcoran, an acquaintance of McLean’s, told The Globe that McLean told him Tuerk had begun to drink heavily and was often despondent.
“The slow deterioration of his career as a doctor and surgeon is when he started getting more violent,” he said.
Just a few months before she died, McLean—who worked offering Reiki services to clients through the Birch Tree Energy and Healing—allegedly called the Dover-Sherborn Press to tell a reporter she was afraid of her husband. She also voiced complaints that the system wasn’t protecting her.
Those who knew her are now left mourning her death.
“We’ve lost an angel and I think it’s important for people to know that,” Boland said.
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