Pa. ex-con in castration case arrested after allegedly threatening to shoot judge
A transgender woman who spent time behind bars for a botched castration that led to the death of her sixth husband was arrested this week after she allegedly threatened to shoot a Westmoreland County, Pa., judge, according to news reports and police.
Tammy L. Felbaum, 58, of Seward, in southwestern Pennsylvania, entered the Westmoreland County Courthouse on Monday morning, placed her purse on the baggage X-ray equipment, then made comments that "she had guns and an Uzi and a rocket launcher in her purse," County Park Police Chief Kirk Nolan said Wednesday.
As she walked through the scanner, she told another officer, "I came here to shoot a judge," Nolan said.
He said officers searched her purse and did not find any weapons. Felbaum told police she was only kidding about her threats, Nolan said. He said she did not name a specific judge.
Felbaum nonetheless was charged with terroristic threats and disorderly conduct. She was being held Wednesday at the Westmoreland County Prison on $100,000 bail.
In February 2001, Felbaum botched a castration on her husband, James, at their home in Marion Township, Butler County, about an hour's drive north of Pittsburgh, the Associated Press reported. Authorities alleged that James Felbaum choked to death on his vomit after he took or was given painkilling drugs following the crude surgery.
James Felbaum, 40, died at a hospital in Grove City on Feb. 25, a day or two after the operation.
At her nonjury trial in December 2001, Tammy Felbaum claimed her husband had castrated himself. But the judge found her responsible and convicted her of involuntary manslaughter, aggravated assault, recklessly endangering another person and unauthorized practice of medicine. She was sentenced to 5½ to 11 years in state prison.
A state trooper who had interviewed Tammy Felbaum said she denied taking part in her husband's castration, and said she told him she had "an interest in medicine" and "had castrated bulls in the past," the AP reported.
The trooper had said that Felbaum told him she had argued with her husband after he returned from a drug rehab clinic and she thought he was cheating on her, the AP reported.
Felbaum was born Thomas Wyda in Uniontown, but underwent a sex-change operation in 1980 after self-castration, according to news reports.
After being released from prison in her husband's death, Felbaum maintained that she did not kill her husband, according to an interview she gave to WPXI-TV. "My husband died from complications of a drug overdose, not complications of any surgery. I did not kill my husband. ... It's a minor surgery," she told the TV station. She also said she had performed the surgery on her first husband.
TribLive.com reported that Felbaum faced a civil court hearing Monday in Westmoreland County before Judge Chris Scherer in relation to a complaint by a sanitary authority claiming that she failed to connect her home to sanitary sewer lines as required by local ordinances.
She faces a Feb. 23 preliminary hearing on her most recent criminal charges.