Three Investors Claim They Lost Millions to New York Attorney Who Killed Family, Himself

At least three investors claim they lost millions of dollars working with a New York tax attorney who police say killed himself after fatally beating and asphyxiating his wife and two daughters, a lawyer said Thursday.

Attorney Steven B. Drelich said Thursday that at least three people have called his office to say they lost about $4 million to William Parente, who was found dead Monday in a Maryland hotel room along with his family.

"We've been contacted by others who have lost millions of dollars," Drelich said. "What he did to his family is unforgivable. The face of evil can be pretty ordinary."

Drelich's partner, Bruce Montague, told authorities on Tuesday after learning of the deaths that he lost at least $450,000 to Parente.

Drelich said firm officials contacted Baltimore County police, who referred them to the FBI and New York Attorney General's office. The FBI has since begun investigating the losses.

Authorities have said Parente did not leave any notes that might show he was driven by investment business troubles, and detectives say they don't have a motive for the slayings.

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

Police said Wednesday that 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.

Their bodies were discovered Monday in a hotel room north of Baltimore. 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, Hill said. William Parente died by cutting himself and was found in the bathroom, but Hill did not give further details.

James Margolin, an FBI spokesman in New York, confirmed that the agency began investigating the father's investment business dealings 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 that the complaint was received Tuesday, and that officials hadn't determined whether to start an investigation.

Montague, 47, 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.

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 A. Wood, 34, then shot himself. Police revealed Tuesday that the family was having extreme financial problems.