Thursday, April 23, 2009

TOWSON, Md. (AP) — A New York tax attorney’s investment dealings are being investigated by the FBI after he beat and asphyxiated his wife and daughters in a Maryland hotel room, then answered a call from his daughter’s college roommate before killing himself, authorities said Wednesday.

The bodies were discovered Monday in a hotel north of Baltimore. Police provided new details about the crime Wednesday, saying William Parente, 59, of Garden City, N.Y., killed his wife, Betty Parente, 58, and their daughters, 19-year-old Stephanie and 11-year-old Catherine. The couple and their younger daughter were in Maryland to visit Stephanie, a sophomore at Loyola College in Baltimore.

Betty and the daughters, who were found on the bed, died from blunt force trauma and asphyxiation, Baltimore County police spokesman Cpl. Mike Hill said. Hill said William Parente, who was found in the bathroom, died by cutting himself.

Hill declined to elaborate.

It appeared that Betty died first, Catherine next and Stephanie later Sunday afternoon, though the timeline was still under investigation, Hill said. There was no sign that they had been restrained and no notes were found in the room.

Investigators were unable to determine if there was a struggle or whether objects found in the room were used in the killings or another object was used and later disposed of, Hill said.

Police Chief Jim Johnson said William Parente answered a phone call from Stephanie’s roommate to the hotel room around midnight, after investigators believe he killed his wife and daughters.

Hill said investigators do not have a motive and have not determined whether the deaths were related to any financial problems.

“We have not reached that determination and we may never reach that determination,” Hill said.

James Margolin, an FBI spokesman in New York, confirmed that the FBI began investigating William Parente’s investment business dealing after the deaths but declined to provide more details.

The New York state attorney general’s office said it received a complaint from a man who says he invested hundreds of thousands of dollars with William M. Parente and had trouble getting his money back.

Spokesman Alex Detrick said the complaint was received Tuesday afternoon and officials hadn’t determined whether to start an investigation.

Bruce Montague, 47, a Queens lawyer, told Newsday that he recently received six checks worth about $450,000 from Parente. Montague said Parente told him he could deposit two of the checks but asked him to wait with the others. Montague said a bank official told him the four others would not clear.

The Parente family was last seen Sunday afternoon. After the family failed to check out on time, workers at the hotel in Towson, a suburb north of Baltimore, found the bodies Monday afternoon in a 10th floor guest room.

Friends and neighbors said they never suspected anything was amiss and were dumbfounded to learn the family was dead.

William Parente was a lawyer, his wife Betty a stay-at-home mom active in the community. Their daughters were well-liked by teachers and classmates.

They lived in a neighborhood of million-dollar homes in Garden City, N.Y., across from a golf course. William was a tax and estate planning attorney who commuted to Manhattan. Betty volunteered.

“I can’t tell you how heartsick I am,” next-door neighbor Mary Opulente Krener said. “This is the most wonderful family, the most kind and loving family. I’m astounded.”

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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