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Recovered bullet key evidence in slain doctor case

Slepian's family say they want him remembered as a physician  

Investigators warn of possibility of more violence

In this story:

October 27, 1998
Web posted at: 11:23 p.m. EST (0423 GMT)

AMHERST, New York (CNN) -- The bullet that killed physician Barnett Slepian last Friday was recovered intact and should help investigators determine whether the shooting of the obstetrician-gynecologist was connected to four other sniper attacks against doctors who performed abortions.

Concern that a serial sniper or a conspiracy may be responsible for all of the attacks has caused law enforcement agencies in the United States and Canada to warn doctors who perform abortions to be on guard.

Slepian, 52, was shot while standing in the kitchen of his Amherst home on Friday evening. Police said that whoever shot Slepian had lain in wait "for some time" in a wooded area.

CNN's Susan Candiotti talks with the doctor's family
Windows Media 28K 56K
Slepian's sister speaks about her brother
325K/26 sec. AIFF or WAV sound

Slepian's family said Tuesday they did not want him to be remembered as an abortionist but as a "fine physician" who performed a service for women.

Important piece of evidence

In four previous attacks over the last four years, doctors who performed abortions were shot at their homes with high-powered rifles.

Three of those killings occurred in Canada and one in Rochester, New York. All of the attacks happened in late October or early November.

The discovery of an intact bullet in the Slepian shooting made it "a very important piece of physical evidence," since it should allow investigators to match it with the gun used to kill Slepian, a source close to the probe told CNN.

Only bullet fragments were found from the earlier shootings, which investigators believe may be linked.

Previous attacks include:

  • On November 8, 1994, Dr. Garson Romalis of Vancouver, British Columbia, was shot through his kitchen door and wounded in the leg.

  • On November 10, 1995, Dr. Hugh Short, a gynecologist in Hamilton, Ontario, was shot through the window of his home, shattering his left elbow.

  • On November 11, 1997, Dr. Jack Fainman in Winnipeg survived a similar shooting when he was hit in the shoulder by a high-powered rifle bullet.

  • On October 28, 1997, in Rochester, New York, an unidentified doctor was cut by flying glass when he was fired at as he stood outside his home.

  • "We believe the similarities are striking to the point where we believe they're all linked," said Winnipeg Police Inspector Keith McKaskill.

    He is a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police task force that was assembled to investigate the first four attacks.

    McKaskill said the fact that there were two similar shootings last fall raises concern that a second attack could be planned in the coming months.

    "That certainly leads us to believe that we need to get it to the public as soon as we can," McKaskill said. "No doctor, or any health professional, should be letting down their guard."

    'A fine physician'

    Slepian's sister, Serena Robb, told CNN on Tuesday that she wanted her brother to be remembered as "a fine physician."

    "He believed in women's rights. ... he believed in the rights of women to choose what they chose to do in their best interests and ... he provided the service for them," she said.

    "I would not want him to be thought of as an abortionist," Robb said. "He was a physician who provided a service."

    Copyright 1998   The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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