Houston police are hunting a man whose mother died 20 years ago under the knife of a Texas surgeon — who went on to successfully treat former President George H.W. Bush — and they're asking the public for help finding him.
Joseph James Pappas, 62, is charged with the murder of Dr. Mark Hausknecht, a prominent cardiologist, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo announced at a Wednesday news conference, where he revealed that an arrest warrant had been issued for Pappas.
“Evidence has been obtained that ties this man to this crime and we believe that this absolutely is the killer of Dr. Hausknecht,” Acevedo said, adding that Pappas has thus far eluded capture and poses a public safety risk.
“It's important for people to look out for this man. He’s very dangerous and we need to get him into custody,” Acevedo said.
Acevedo also disclosed what police believe was Pappas’s motive for murdering Hausknecht.
The doctor “operated on his mother over 20 years ago and she died during surgery,” Acevedo said.
“So it appears that this may be a 20 year-old grudge that this man held. And, sadly, we have a person who lost their life.”
Hausknecht was shot to death on July 20 while riding his bicycle to work.
“The suspect was on a bicycle as well. Rode past the doctor, turned and fired two shots. The doctor immediately went down,” Houston Police Executive Assistant Chief Troy Finner told the Associated Press at the time.
Hausknecht, 65, treated the former president for an irregular heartbeat in February 2000, after Bush complained about lightheadedness during a visit to Florida. Hausknecht appeared with Bush at a news conference following his treatment.
After Hausknecht’s murder, Bush issued a statement offering condolences to Hausknecht’s family.
“Mark was a fantastic cardiologist and a good man. I will always be grateful for his exceptional, compassionate care,” the statement read.
While Texas police called on the public for help finding Pappas, they also urged caution.
“He’s considered to be armed and dangerous. People should not try to deal with him directly.”
“He’s dangerous. He’s armed. He’s capable. And if you spot him, call 911.”
[Photo: Houston Police Department]