- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A Baltimore college sophomore ate breakfast with her parents and sister, who had made the trip from their home in New York to see her.

By the next day they were dead, victims of what police described Tuesday as an apparent murder-suicide. An employee found their bodies in a locked guest room at a hotel near Baltimore after they failed to check out on time Monday.

Police haven’t said exactly what happened in between or why, and stunned neighbors and friends said Tuesday that they saw no signs anything was amiss.

Baltimore County police identified the dead as William Parente, 59; his wife, Betty Parente, 58; and their daughters Stephanie, 19, and Catherine, 11, of Garden City, N.Y., on Long Island.

A spokeswoman said Stephanie was a sophomore at Loyola College, where a Mass in her memory was slated Tuesday night. Mr. Parente was a tax and estate planning attorney in New York City and Mrs. Parente a stay-at-home mom, neighbors said.

Autopsies were being done Tuesday. Police Cpl. Michael Hill said police did not yet have a motive for the killings and declined to say how the Parentes were killed, except to specify that they were neither shot nor stabbed.

“It is with some sadness,” Cpl. Hill said, “that we report that a whole family is dead.”

Mary Opulente Krener, a social worker who lives next door to the Parentes in a neighborhood of million-dollar homes, said her professional experience did not suggest family members were having psychological or financial problems.

She said in a phone interview that she could not believe one family member would hurt any of the others.

“I can’t tell you how heartsick I am,” she said. “This is the most wonderful family, the most kind and loving family. I’m astounded.”

A message left at Mr. Parente’s Manhattan office was not immediately returned.

Mrs. Parente was on the board of the Tri Town Auxiliary of United Cerebral Palsy of Nassau and volunteered with the Girl Scouts and the American Cancer Society, said Lucille Messina, auxiliary president.

The Parentes were “the most wonderful, beautiful, adorable people. This is impossible, impossible,” Miss Messina said through tears. “I can’t believe this, she’s the sweetest lady you’d ever want to meet. You’d fall in love with her instantly.”

Catherine was a sixth-grader at Garden City Middle School, and the Garden City school district sent a notice to parents and made counselors available. Loyola also offered counseling to its students.

An employee of the Sheraton Baltimore North Hotel saw the family together Sunday afternoon, apparently the last time they were seen alive, Cpl. Hill said. The hotel is in Towson, about five miles north of the Loyola campus.

• Associated Press writers Sarah Brumfield and Ben Greene in Baltimore and Frank Eltman in Garden City, N.Y., contributed to this report.

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