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Police Investigate Mutilation Death of Family Doctor

February 22, 1996 GMT

NEW YORK (AP) _ In the neighborhood where he cared for poor families, Dr. Claude Michel was known to bill only those he knew could pay.

The profile of kindness didn’t portend his sadistic demise.

The family doctor’s body was discovered Tuesday night in his parked car. Police said someone had slashed his throat and severed his penis, placing it in his hand.

Investigators remained mystified Wednesday about exactly when _ or why _ the 48-year-old doctor was mutilated, said police spokeswoman Kathy Kelly. Along with searching for the killer, they were checking the doctor’s background for clues about a possible motive.

According to friends and patients who gathered Wednesday to mourn at his office, Michel came to the United States from Haiti in the early 1970s. He started his medical practice about 13 years ago.

Michel earned a reputation for compassion and generosity among his patients, many also Haitian immigrants, said Alex Mathurin, a friend whose family had gone to the physician for 12 years.

``If you have money, he treat you; if you don’t have money, he treat you,″ Mathurin said. ``He was a man of the community, a lovely person.″

Mathurin said Michel was last seen driving away from his office in the borough of Brooklyn at about 6:30 p.m. Monday. He presumably was headed to his family’s home in Woodbury, an exclusive Long Island community. He and his wife have three children: a son, 20, and two daughters, 16 and 14.

But Michel failed to come home that night. The next day, his family filed a missing persons report, Kelly said.

At about 11 p.m. Tuesday, officers on routine patrol spotted the doctor’s Nissan Pathfinder parked at an odd angle on a street about two miles east of his office.

When the officers stopped to inspect the car, they found Michel’s mutilated body slumped over in the passenger seat.

An autopsy found that he died from the slit throat, said Ellen Borakove, a spokeswoman for the medical examiner’s office. It was not clear whether he was alive when his penis was severed.