FBI probes finances of man believed to have killed family

A New York tax lawyer who police say beat and asphyxiated his wife and two daughters in a Maryland hotel room left nothing to reveal what might have driven him to brutally kill his family.

And although the FBI is investigating his investment dealings, detectives say they don't have a motive and don't know whether the deaths were related to any financial problems.

"We have not reached that determination and we may never reach that determination," Baltimore County police spokesman Cpl. Mike Hill said.

Police said yesterday that William Parente, 59, of Garden City, New York, killed his wife, Betty Parente, 58, and their daughters, 19-year-old Stephanie and 11-year-old Catherine, then himself.

The bodies were discovered on Monday in a hotel north of Baltimore. The couple and their younger daughter were in Maryland to visit Stephanie, an undergraduate at Loyola College in Baltimore.

Betty and the daughters, who were found on the bed, died from blunt force trauma and asphyxiation, Hill said. William Parente, who was found in the bathroom, died by cutting himself, but 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.

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

It was the second time in less than a week that Maryland was dealing with such a tragedy. Late last week, a father in the northwestern Maryland city of Frederick fatally shot his wife and their three young children, police said.

The father, Christopher Wood, 34, then shot himself. Police revealed on Tuesday that the family was having extreme financial problems.

In the Parentes' case, James Margolin, an FBI spokesman in New York, confirmed that the agency began investigating the father'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 Parente and had trouble getting his money back.

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