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In hindsight, Dr. Timothy V. Jorden Jr. showed all the signs of a man with a careful plan for vanishing without a trace and evading a nationwide manhunt.

He withdrew up to $30,000 from his bank account in the days leading up to the fatal shooting of his ex-girlfriend, Jackie Wisniewski, authorities now acknowledge.

And out of the blue, they say, the Erie County Medical Center trauma surgeon began giving gifts to some of his closest friends.

Even more telling perhaps was the dramatic change in Jorden's appearance, from cleanshaven and heavyset to bearded and believed to be 75 pounds lighter.

"He's out there somewhere," Buffalo Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda said Thursday. "We believe he's still in the United States. To the best of my knowledge, he has not crossed the border."

Police believe that Jorden, a former Army Special Forces soldier, killed Wisniewski with military precision and then took off as part of a carefully planned getaway.

Some other details of Jorden's actions before and after the killing surfaced Thursday, amid unconfirmed reports that he might be physically or mentally ill.

For instance, Jorden returned to his home in Lake View after the slaying, police told The Buffalo News.

That questionable decision is one of the primary reasons they're wondering about his mental state. Thursday, a neighbor told police about hearing a gunshot sometime Wednesday, prompting police to search surrounding woods and fields with K-9 dogs throughout the day.

Derenda would not confirm or deny those reports but said that all four of Jorden's vehicles are now accounted for. Police think that he had access to a fifth vehicle no one knew about and that he may have used it in his getaway from ECMC.

"We don't know, if he is driving, what he is driving," the commissioner said.

Derenda also confirmed the existence of surveillance video from ECMC. "We did get evidence from cameras at the hospital," he said.

The doctor, who has treated and saved gunshot victims, is suspected of fatally shooting Wisniewski at point-blank range in a stairwell at ECMC and disappearing.

"I don't think the general public is in danger," Derenda told reporters Thursday. But "an officer coming across this individual?" the commissioner said, "Again, he needs to be considered armed and dangerous."

Friends say Wisniewski, a single mother from West Seneca and a well-respected secretary in the center's adolescent psychiatric unit, had confided to them that Jorden had been abusive and that she was afraid for her life. Derenda would not comment on a possible motive for the killing.

Police say the 6-foot, 2-inch Jorden may have intentionally altered his appearance, first by losing a substantial amount of weight, then by growing a beard.

He was initially described as weighing 250 pounds, but after conducting interviews, police said he is much lighter. Co-workers estimated he lost 75 pounds. A photo released by police Wednesday showed the 49-year-old doctor as cleanshaven and having a shaved head, as well. A later photo showed him with a bandanna and scruffy beard.

Police said that there is no indication Jorden crossed over into Canada. He could be hiding almost anywhere, police said, and he does have connections north of the border.

For that reason, Buffalo police contacted the U.S. Border Patrol and asked that it be on the lookout for Jorden.

"It's not that we're having a hard time," Derenda said of the nationwide search for Jorden. "I believe, at some point, we will locate him."

Jorden was last scene fleeing the medical center's David K. Miller Building shortly after the 8 a.m. shooting Wednesday, investigators said.

Police say they have received reports that Jorden may have driven to the Carolinas or Georgia, where he has relatives and acquaintances, or headed west to Seattle, a city where he may have family and friends.

"We are working with local, state and federal law enforcement partners," Derenda said. "Hopefully, we will have him in custody soon."

Those partners include the FBI, the U.S. Marshals Service, the New York State Police, the Erie County Sheriff's Office and local police agencies.

During frantic attempts to find Jorden after the shooting, police determined that the doctor not only had access to several vehicles, but also could have been hiding at several locations. They include six area residences that are the homes of various women he dated, they said.

According to one of Wisniewski's friends, she broke up with Jorden because he was cheating on her.

Another aspect of the investigation escalated Thursday.

Investigators from the police Internal Affairs and Homicide bureaus also expanded their inquiry into the Buffalo police officer discovered at Jorden's $540,000 home.

Martin L. Motley III was leaving the house when Hamburg police arrived there after the shooting. He was carrying a Rolex watch, about $5,000 cash and his personal handgun, a law enforcement official told The News. Police said earlier that it was his service weapon.

Roland M. Cercone, attorney for Motley, released a statement Thursday evening saying the officer had no knowledge about the shooting or Jorden's whereabouts. Motley had been concerned about his friend's behavior -- including some unusual gift-giving -- and went to his home to check on him after hearing about the shooting.

Cercone said Motley has cooperated with authorities, including turning over his phone and text messages.

Motley, 47, was on long-term disability leave but was suspended without pay Thursday for leaving his Buffalo home during what normally would have been his time to work. Derenda indicated that departmental charges may be filed against him.

Anyone with information about the slaying or Jorden's whereabouts is encouraged to call the Buffalo police confidential tip line at 847-2255. Derenda said members of the public should call 911 if they see Jorden.

A Mass of Christian Burial for Wisniewski will be offered at 9:30 a.m. Saturday in St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church, 1140 Abbott Road.

email: lmichel@buffnews.com and pfairbanks@buffnews.com