A man shot and killed his ex-wife, their three children and himself in a small-town park where they had met for the woman to hand over the youngsters for a visit, investigators said Friday.
Their bodies were found Thursday evening in the tiny community of Unity when Maryland-National Capital Park Police officers stopped in the deserted park after noticing two cars with their engines running, said Wayne Jerman, Montgomery County assistant police chief.
The bodies of Gail Louise Pumphrey, 43, of Woodbine, and the three children — ages 6 to 12 — were found in the cars, Jerman said. David Peter Brockdorff, 40, of Frederick, was found nearby with what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Police said they recovered a .22-caliber rifle near his body.
Sarah Mullen, a neighbor of Pumphrey’s, identified the children as David, 12; Megan, 10; and Brandon, 6. Police confirmed their ages but said they would not immediately release their identities.
Pumphrey had met with Brockdorff to hand over the children for a visit, according to investigators. No neighbors reported hearing gunshots, Jermain said.
The couple, who divorced in 2005, had a history of domestic violence, police said.
The family lived in Frederick County for about five years, with Brockdorff moving out in 2005 and Pumphrey leaving this year, neighbors said.
Brockdorff was a self-employed electrician who had coached T-ball, and Pumphrey was a flight attendant, said Mullen, who lives two houses away. The three Brockdorff children were close friends with Mullen’s.
The couple’s relationship was stormy, and police were often called to their large home to help settle their disputes, Mullen said.
In fall 2005, Pumphrey asked Brockdorff to move out, and he moved to nearby Urbana. But he continued to visit Pumphrey and harass her, Mullen said. Pumphrey got a restraining order and even suspected that her phone had been tapped.
“She was very scared,” Mullen said. “She wanted to protect her kids and herself.”
Authorities blocked off roads Thursday in Unity, near the town of Laytonsville and about 25 miles northwest of Washington. The 1.5-acre park is in a sparsely populated area of mostly woods and farmland.
There have been several domestic killings involving children in Maryland this year.
In April, a father hanged his two young children before committing suicide in rural Boyds, in Montgomery County. In March, the remains of four young children were found in a town house in neighboring Frederick. The father’s body was found hanging from a banister, and the mother remains missing.