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Cops: N.Y. dad beat, asphyxiated family in hotel

A New York tax lawyer beat and asphyxiated his wife and two daughters to death before killing himself in a Maryland hotel room, police said Wednesday.
Hotel Bodies
Loyola College student Stephanie Parente was found dead, along with her parents and sister, in a Towson. Md., hotel on Monday. AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

A New York tax lawyer beat and asphyxiated his wife and two daughters to death before killing himself in a Maryland hotel room, police said Wednesday, and the FBI revealed it had been investigating the man's investment dealings.

Police also said William Parente, 58, of Garden City, N.Y., may have answered a phone call to the room from one his daughters' friends after the killings Sunday.

The bodies were discovered Monday in a hotel north of Baltimore. On Wednesday, police revealed some of their findings and named William Parente as the killer of 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.

The cause of death for Betty and the daughters was blunt force trauma and asphyxiation, Baltimore County police spokesman Cpl. Mike Hill said. They were found on the bed. Hill said William Parente died by cutting himself and was found in the bathroom.

Hill declined to elaborate on how the man cut himself or how his wife and daughters were asphyxiated.

It appeared that Betty Parente died first, Catherine next and Stephanie died 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 conclude 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 his wife and daughters are believed to have been killed.

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.

FBI probes lawyer's dealings
The FBI confirmed Wednesday that they were investigating William Parente.

"We're looking into Mr. Parente's investment business dealings," FBI spokesman James Margolin said in New York. He declined to provide any more details.

The New York state attorney general's office said it had 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 investigators had yet to determine 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 that Parente told him that 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 and after the family failed to check out on time, workers at the hotel in Towson, a suburb just north of Baltimore, found the bodies in a 10th floor guest room on Monday afternoon.

'Most wonderful family'
Friends and neighbors of the Parentes 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 the street from a golf course. William was a tax and estate planning attorney who commuted to Manhattan. His wife 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."