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Fugitive in Houston doctor's death kills self as police move in

By Susan McFarland

Aug. 3 (UPI) -- A manhunt for the suspected killer of a high-profile Houston cardiologist ended Friday when authorities say he killed himself before officers could catch him.

Investigators were searching for Joseph James Pappas, who was charged with murder for the July 20 killing of Dr. Mark Hausknecht. Houston police released photos of Pappas Wednesday hoping for a tip on his location.

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Friday, officials said Pappas killed himself as police closed in on his location in southwest Houston.

Authorities said Pappas was found wearing body armor and had a gun in his hand, and that he'd killed himself with a single shot to the head.

"It's a sad day all the way around," Houston police Chief Art Acevedo told reporters. "It doesn't bring anybody back but it does bring closure."

Police said they got a fix on Pappas' location Friday when he was spotted by a Houston Parks employee.

Pappas was formally charged Thursday with Hausknecht's death. Investigators believe he held a decades-long grudge against the prominent doctor -- who once was former President George H.W. Bush's cardiologist -- because his mother died under Hausknecht's care during the 1990s.

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Acevedo said a search of Pappas' home revealed an extensive intelligence file on Hausknecht.

Pappas worked for 30 years as a constable in Harris County, as a peace officer and reserve officer. Police said he took law enforcement classes through August of last year and was a highly skilled shooter.

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