It seemed like a typical spring weekend: A Baltimore college sophomore ate breakfast with her parents and sister, who'd made the trip from their home in New York to see her.
By the next day they were dead, victims of what police described Tuesday as an apparent murder-suicide. An employee found their bodies in a locked guest room at a hotel near Baltimore after they failed to check out on time Monday.
Police haven't said exactly what happened in between or why, and stunned neighbors and friends said Tuesday they saw no signs anything was amiss.
Baltimore County police identified the dead as William Parente, 59, his wife, Betty Parente, 58, and their daughters, Stephanie, 19, and Catherine, 11, of Garden City, N.Y., on Long Island.
A spokeswoman said Stephanie was a sophomore at Loyola College, where a Mass in her memory was planned Tuesday night. William Parente was a tax and estate planning attorney in New York City and Betty Parente a stay-at-home mom, neighbors said.
Autopsies were being done Tuesday. Police Cpl. Michael Hill said police did not yet have a motive for the killings and declined to say how the Parentes were killed, except to specify that they were not shot or stabbed.
"It is with some sadness," Hill said, "that we report that a whole family is dead."
Mary Opulente Krener, a social worker who lives next door to the Parentes in a neighborhood of million-dollar homes, said her professional experience did not suggest family members were having psychological or financial problems.
She said in a phone interview that she could not believe one family member would hurt any of the others.
"I can't tell you how heartsick I am," she said. "This is the most wonderful family, the most kind and loving family. I'm astounded."
A message left at William Parente's Manhattan office was not immediately returned
Betty Parente was on the board of the Tri Town Auxiliary of United Cerebral Palsy of Nassau and volunteered with the Girl Scouts and the American Cancer Society, said Lucille Messina, auxiliary president.
The Parentes were "the most wonderful, beautiful, adorable people. This is impossible, impossible," Messina said through tears. "I can't believe this, she's the sweetest lady you'd ever want to meet. You'd fall in love with her instantly."
On Tuesday, a silver Volvo was parked in the driveway of the Parentes' split-level ranch across from the Cherry Valley Club golf course. A portable basketball backboard was nearby; a wooden jungle gym in the backyard.
Krener's husband, Bob Krener, sold the Parentes their home 11 years ago, and his own family moved in next door about 2 1/2 years ago.
"The girls couldn't have been nicer girls or more polite," Bob Krener said. "If the ball would come in our backyard, they would apologize profusely."
Catherine was a sixth-grader at Garden City Middle School, and the Garden City school district sent a notice to parents and made counselors available. Loyola also offered counseling to its students.
Bob Krener said Garden City police showed up Monday and asked why there was a pile of newspapers in the Parentes' driveway. The Kreners gave police Betty Parente's cell phone number and tried calling it themselves. No one answered.
An employee of the Sheraton Baltimore North Hotel saw the family together Sunday afternoon, apparently the last time they were seen alive, Hill said. The hotel is in Towson, about 5 miles north of the Loyola campus.
The apparent murder-suicide was the second in Maryland in less than a week. On Saturday, the bodies of a man, his wife and their three young children were found in their home in northwest Maryland, and police said the husband killed his family, then himself. His wife wrote in a blog entry that he was having a hard time adjusting to a new job and police said there were indications the husband had psychiatric and financial problems.
Also, on Sunday afternoon, a woman in the state's northeastern corner shot her husband in the back of the head, then fatally shot herself, police said. The husband survived and was in critical but stable condition Monday. The couple had been married less than three weeks.