That's what drove Tucker into plastic surgery, Virginia says. Before the '70s, the field was less about boob jobs than helping patients charred in fires or maimed in accidents.

Then, when cosmetic surgeries became more popular, Glen Tucker reaped the benefits. The family lived a comfortable life in a lakefront home.

By the early '80s, though, Virginia — then in her early 20s — knew her father was struggling. She knew nothing about the allegations lodged by Lehman or other patients, but she "worried about how depressed he seemed, how dour he had become."

Glen Tucker was one of Wisconsin's most prominent plastic surgeons.
Photo courtesy of Wisconsin Public Television
Glen Tucker was one of Wisconsin's most prominent plastic surgeons.
"Mary" was 27 when Tucker mangled her breasts in a botched implant surgery.
Photo courtesy of Wisconsin Public Television
"Mary" was 27 when Tucker mangled her breasts in a botched implant surgery.

As lawsuits piled up and investigations opened, Tucker cracked, his daughter says. "For a man of that level of accomplishment to admit to his emotional problems, it was impossible," she says. "The real heartbreak for me is that with some basic psychiatric care, he could have functioned perfectly well. But he was on call every other night. He kept a superhuman schedule and couldn't admit his own weaknesses."

So when Virginia and her mother learned that Glen had lied to them and fled to Florida, they reacted with concern, not fury. "He was emotionally ill. There was no other woman. He didn't take money or a passport," Virginia says. "He was emotionally broken. He'd had a breakdown. There was no question of forgiving; there was just hoping he could stay alive."

Tucker's daughter disputes the notion that her father was a wealthy surgeon fleeing his debts. In fact, she says, he was still paying off his student loans. He and Joan set up on Little Torch Key with little more than a few thousand in savings.

In the Keys, the couple had to reinvent themselves. Glen gave up his doctors' scrubs. He tried commercial fishing and then taught himself carpentry and did odd jobs. But he rarely socialized, preferring to keep to himself.

Joan was more outgoing. She got a realtor's license, joined a small firm, and soon became well known in the lower Keys. To friends and colleagues, she was a dedicated professional and a conscientious neighbor. Her colleagues knew nothing about her old life in Wisconsin or how she ended up in the Keys.

"The Keys are a different place. It's really to each his own down here," says Judy Shephard, a realtor who worked with Joan for decades and became a close friend, but knew nothing about her past. "It's one of the things I loved about moving here from California. It doesn't make any difference how much money you have or where you came from."

Even after Hackett and Patrick discovered Glen in 1984 and produced a pair of Wisconsin Public Television pieces and an article in Milwaukee Magazine, no one in the Keys knew about the couple's past. This was an era before the Internet.

In the decades they lived together on Little Torch Key, the Tuckers were mostly happy, Virginia remembers. "They found some real moments of joy," she says. "They stayed a big part of my own life, after I had kids of my own."

That all changed in 2003, when Joan died at 73 years old. Glen was despondent, Virginia recalls. His wife had been the one constant in his life, even when he tried to flee his problems.

The next year, he posted a profile on eHarmony. When he connected with another woman his age, Virginia was thrilled.

Her name was Joan, like his first wife, but her last name from a previous marriage was Carter McDonald. She was four years younger than Glen. For months, the pair exchanged letters. Their politics were similar, and Joan's intellect was a match for the former doctor's. Once a teacher at the University of Southern Mississippi, she had advanced degrees in English and wrote government reports for a living. She resided for a while in Germany, and in her free time, she had written two books about Catholic philosopher Thomas Merton.

After a short courtship, the pair married in December 2005. Joan moved into the home on Little Torch Key, filling one room with hundreds of books.

"We welcomed her to the family," Virginia says. "They had some decent years together... He loved her, and she genuinely loved him. They were both looking for happiness and companionship at the end of their lives."

But the new Joan didn't come unattached. Tucker clashed with her two sons, Carter and Allan McDonald. Tucker thought they demanded too much money, Virginia says, adding that her father once paid a $7,000 dental bill.

"The brothers are ne'er-do-wells who sucked them dry," she says.

Neither brother responded to multiple messages seeking comment for this story. Allan McDonald has been charged with crimes in Broward County, including a 2002 drunk-driving arrest, to which he pleaded no contest, and a prowling and loitering charge in 2008 that he also did not dispute. Joan McDonald's daughter, Mary Price, an architect in Oklahoma, declined to speak on the record but denied Virginia's claims that her brothers freeloaded.

What's clear is that the couple's life fell apart in late 2010, when a debilitating stroke left Joan paralyzed. Glen reacted with profound depression. His second wife was moved to an assisted living facility for nearly a year, but on April 30, 2011, her children took her back home against Tucker's wishes.

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31 comments
clytamnestra
clytamnestra

seems like the 'running form debtors' rumor is probably true if he had a successful and well-paying career, lived in an expensive house. but also was still paying of his student-loans and only had a few thousand in savings.

clearly this guy was bad with money. (but he wouldn't have admitted to that, or to anything else that didn't fit in the 'he was a brilliant man' narrative that his daughter is still parroting)

coffeetea
coffeetea

To not feel any remorse for the atrocities he's committed (or to even acknowledge that it was wrong) shows signs of sociopathy. The fact that his daughter is still defending him, despite being shown evidence of his violent offenses, makes me think that she's either delusional or takes after her father... If she's anything like him, then I would not want her anywhere near a medical center.

imagineforever
imagineforever

I can't believe Virginia still defends him. She's in complete denial and should probably get checked out herself by a psychiatrist for living in a delusional fantasy. I'd be afraid of her being my nurse after hearing her disagree against hard evidence. Sigh.. like father like daughter.

deeeh
deeeh

it amazes me that somone this incompetent could make an excellent living and fly below the radar of the medical establishment for so long, while his disfigured patients stacked up at the medical review board. interesting, the final question we're left with: was he sadistic or just a crappy doc?  his treatment of some patients went far beyond malpractice and sub-standard care, to sadistic treatment bordering on torture.

Au79Ag47
Au79Ag47

This is a fascinating story reminiscent of "Dr. Hannibal Lector", or of "Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde". There is, of course, one salient difference: this story is NOT fiction. The murderous psychopath, Dr. Glen Tucker,  who eluded the typically ineffective law enforcement agencies for decades was ultimately discovered by a TV producer and a TV investigative reporter to be living comfortably in the pristine and beautiful Florida Keys just 27 miles from Key West, (FL). Murderous butchering psychopath, faked drowning victim,  "respected" physician with both money and connections living care-free for three decades in the picturesque Florida Keys evokes thoughts of a Hollywood movie directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Al Pacino. To the writer of this story, Tim Elfrink, I sincerely commend your riveting writing style encompassing both clarity and coherence. I look forward to reading more of your excellent work.

carolinehjenkins
carolinehjenkins

Very well written story about a fascinating, evil individual. I guess it's not that unusual for a grown daughter to have different memories than those whose lives he ruined without remorse but it makes for an interesting comparison. I am so glad that I discovered the Miami New Times being the true crime junkie that I am.

Yaymike20
Yaymike20

@_MrsLibby_G taxi story woah

Xo_Jc
Xo_Jc

@_MrsLibby_G crazy story.

The_Yeti_Knows
The_Yeti_Knows

Must have been some onion...... I'm more of a Rutabaga man myself.

merl.allen
merl.allen topcommenter

he killed his cat?? what kind of monster does that?

Chris Ball
Chris Ball

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fratdawgg23
fratdawgg23

Well-written article. Also, scary as he11 because of how prominent and respected the doc was in the community while occasionally disfiguring or maiming patients. His lack of a conscience and empathy are key traits of a sociopath; the infliction of pain is, indeed, psychopathic.

The doctor's daughter mentioned his bouts of depression makes me wonder if those depressing periods corresponded in any way with the botched surgeries. Specifically, was he otherwise a competent surgeon with satisfied patients, then during a depression period the psychopathic side took over?

clytamnestra
clytamnestra

 @coffeetea

yeah, scary to think she's a nurse.

i'd say she is a combination of in denial and being trained by her dominant and manipulative father all her life to  give him what he wants (being 'unquestionable loyalty and adoration') . seems that she has the same personality-flaw as her mother: hanging onto someone 'strong' and defending all his crimes by pretending he was just depressed and those victims are being unreasonable etc etc.

Larry
Larry

 @merl.allen Are you kidding?  You read what he did to humans, right?

clytamnestra
clytamnestra

 @fratdawgg23

i don't think he was all that depressed anyway, just delusional and psychotic.

 

was he a good doctor at some times? it's possible, i suppose.

but you should also take into account that he was in a rapidly expanding medical field, so in those circumstances it must have been relatively easy for an unfit doctor to make the cut (lot of demand for booby-doctors, and little supply until a new batch finishes med-school)

timelfrinkmia
timelfrinkmia

@carvperformance Thanks! It's truly an only-in-Florida crime story ...

Yaymike20
Yaymike20

@_MrsLibby_G super crazy! How's the preggo life treating u?

justin_khase
justin_khase

@Larry: No Larry, I don't think merl.allen was kidding.

Yaymike20
Yaymike20

@_MrsLibby_G de pipi I feel for u my friend ! It should go away soon! Everyone is good my princess growing be the day wifey is amazing :)

_MrsLibby_G
_MrsLibby_G

@Yaymike20 dude, sick as fck. Lol 3months and 2 wks. So hopefully the nausea and stuff goes away soon! How's the princess? Wifey?

ana_priest
ana_priest

 @Charles  @Larry  @merl.allen Same. I feel kind of guilty that I instinctively empathize more with the cat than anyone else in this story. He doesn't deserve that anymore than they did.

 
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