William Parente killed his wife, two daughters and then himself on Sunday at a Towson, MD, hotel, police say. When Parente, a tax lawyer, brought his wife Betty, 58, and daughter Catherine, 11, to Maryland for a weekend trip to visit their 19-year-old daughter Stephanie, he knew his financial world was crumbling, authorities said, and that may have sparked his killing spree.

Sources said Wednesday that the Long Island family man was under investigation for allegedly bilking investors out of $20 million, the New York Post reports.

Both the Post and New York Daily News spoke to one of the investors who was supposedly schemed out of at least $400,000. Bruce Montague, a lawyer in Bayside, asked Parente for his money back after Bernard Madoff’s massive Ponzi scheme fell apart. Parente delayed, but last week wrote him six checks. The checks began to bounce on Monday — hours after the family’s bodies were found, the Post reports.

Details of the killing spree paint Parente as a deeply disturbed and sick man. The family was last seen eating breakfast at nine o’clock AM Sunday. Stephanie went back to campus at Loyola College. In the hotel room, Parente first allegedly suffocated and beat his wife to death and then went after his daughter, Catherine. At around four o’clock PM, electronic key records show Stephanie entered the hotel room. She was reportedly killed in a similar manner.

At about midnight, Stephanie’s roommate called the hotel, worried about why Stephanie hadn’t come home. Stephanie had an exam on Monday. Parente told her that “Stephanie is staying with them at the hotel for the night,” police spokesman Mike Hill said.

At that point, Stephanie was already dead, along with her mother and younger sister. Parente was later discovered in a puddle of his own blood in the bathroom. He apparently cut himself hours after his killing spree and bled to death.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the Parentes’ family and friends. This story breaks our hearts to tell, and when we first reported it on Wednesday, several of our readers shared similar sentiments of disbelief. Below are some of their thoughts. Please feel free to share your thoughts and prayers as well.

I can understand becoming so overwhelmed with life that you think about taking your own life, but your children too? Give me a break! We parents don’t have the right to take our children out. Unbelivable 🙁
By Sherry Dale on 04/22/2009 11:54 am

This morning I was saddened that yet another family had lost lives, pondering why so many suspected/murder suicides lately. Upon hearing more of the details this evening, I was more angry … bad enough that someone would choose death as a means of escaping problems or even retribution but to decide to take spouse and children with? It’s unfathomable.
By Nancy Cleveland on 04/22/2009 6:51 pm