James (L) and April (R) Kauffman
ATLANTIC COUNTY, N.J. (WTXF) - James Kauffman, the Atlantic County doctor charged with hiring a hitman to kill his wife in May of 2012, has died in prison, according to officials. Officials say suicide is suspected.
"For the past five and half years I felt like I've been holding my breath," said Kimberly Pack when we spoke to her earlier this month after Dr. James Kauffman was formally charged with killing his wife April who is Kimberly's mother.
"I think for the first time today I can actually breathe."
But Friday, two weeks after the charges, an attorney for the victim's daughter says she has nothing to say about the latest developments. He said she's not ready and it's very raw. That's in response to prosecutors saying Kauffman wrote a suicide note then killed himself in his cell in the Hudson County Jail Friday morning. Published reports say he waited until his cellmate was taken out for a court appearance then used a bed sheet to take his life.
Dr. Kauffman threatened to take his life before.
“He has a weapon. Drop the gun,” said an officer during an intense body cam video. It showed Kauffman waving a gun and threatening to kill himself last year when investigators were executing a search warrant on his office in Egg Harbor Township.
That ended peacefully and Kauffman was taken into custody first in Atlantic County Jail until prosecutors say he had to be moved to Hudson County due to credible threats on his life.
The dramatic murder-for-hire happened in 2012 when prosecutors say Kauffman and four other people including members of the Pagans motorcycle gang were involved in an illegal pill mill running out of Dr. Kauffman's office. They say he hired a hitman to murder his wife after she threatened to expose him. They were going through a divorce. April Kauffman was a radio host. She was ultimately found shot inside their home.
In a statement the prosecutor's office says:
"James Kauffman died in an apparent suicide on Friday morning, January 26, 2018. The investigation is continuing and we will have no further comment at this time."