The New Jersey family of three found dead in a Roxbury home Tuesday were killed in a murder-suicide, Morris County Prosecutor Robert J. Carroll said at a press conference Wednesday afternoon.
Police found the bodies of 57-year-old Peter Ventricelli, his 58-year-old wife Kellie, and his 15-year-old son Anthony on Tuesday about 10 a.m. during a welfare check requested by a family friend at the home in the Succasunna section of town, prosecutors said.
Authorities said they believe Peter Ventricelli shot his wife and son before killing himself.
“This is a tragic murder-suicide brought on by domestic violence,” Carroll said. “It is a heartbreaking loss for the Ventricelli family. Neighbors, schoolmates, friends and the Roxbury community as a whole are mourning this shocking and senseless loss of life. We ask that citizens exercise discretion and compassion while discussing the situation on social media.”
Carroll added that there is no danger to the public.
Investigators have determined that the killings took place between 3 and 6 a.m. Tuesday, Carroll said.
“The motive and circumstances of these heinous acts are under investigation,” the office said in a release.
Larry Worobec, the family’s next door neighbor, said police questioned him Tuesday morning while attempting the welfare check.
“The police came (in the) morning yesterday and asked if we had heard anything or why they weren’t answering the door or the phone,” Worobec said. “And then after maybe a half hour … they found the body.”
Worobec said the Ventricelli family has lived in the home for about 20 years, adding that Peter, a contractor, did work for him over the years and his son shoveled snow out of his driveway last week.
“The family was quiet, kept to themselves mostly,” Worobec said.
The prosecutor’s office confirmed that the father worked for a private contractor.
Fred Stig, another neighbor, said Kellie’s coworker knocked on his door Tuesday morning before police arrived, worried because she hadn’t showed up for work.
Stig accompanied the woman to the Ventricelli residence and they tried knocking on the door, but didn’t get a response, he said. “As we walked away, police came,” he said. “And then I just kind of left them with her.”
The Roxbury school district issued a statement earlier Wednesday confirming the death of a Roxbury High School student.
“It is with a heavy heart that we share the devastating news of the loss of one of our high school students,” the district’s statement said. “The high school administration and staff have coordinated supports and resources for students and staff who may need them.
“Please keep all those involved in your heart, thoughts, and prayers,” the statement said.
An investigation into the murder-suicide is ongoing and will include scene analysis, electronic device review and interviews, officials said.