RINGWOOD, N.J. (CBS 2/1010 WINS) –Teddy bears and cards were left outside the Birth family home in Pompton Lakes, New Jersey for 5-year-old Jada Birth and her 3-year-old brother Jordan. Police said the children were killed by their father Kurtis Birth, who then took his own life.
Investigators said Birth pulled his children out of daycare and drove them to his parents home on Skyview Road and never returned home.
LISTEN: 1010 WINS’ Glenn Schuck reports
Officers discovered Jordan’s body inside the house, his sister on the stairs outside and their father with a rifle in his car — all dead by a single gunshot to the head, CBS 2’s Hazel Sanchez reported.
Glenn Schuck of 1010 WINS spoke with Caron Manning, the mother of one of Jada’s best friends.
“They were a very, very close family — all four were usually together,” Manning said. “It’s heartbreaking, totally heartbreaking.”
“I don’t know how I am going to tell my daughter because she plays with Jada all the time,” Manning told CBS 2’s Christine Sloan.
Police said the mother, 38-year-old Zoey Mendoza Birth, rushed to the scene and had to be held back.
“She did arrive at the scene and she approached police officers that were there, and she was traumatized by what she was just told,” said Ringwood Police Chief Bernard Lombordo.
The chief had to hold back tears as he spoke. “This is a type of event that rocks a community, and it… it shouldn’t happen anywhere, no less a place as great as Ringwood,” he said.
It’s the kind of horror no one in the neighborhood could comprehend.
“He seemed like a normal guy, looked like they had the perfect life,” Tom Dorsett said.
“They seemed like such nice people. Such beautiful children, it’s devastating. It really is,” neighbor Meryl Feller said.
Friends and neighbors said they had no idea what was going on behind the closed doors of the Birth’s home, but said Kurtis Birth did appear depressed over the weekend and was seen moving furniture out of their home.
Police said there was no history of domestic violence, but 1010 WINS’ Al Jones reported that Birth had recently separated from his wife.
“He was walking in the middle of town by himself with his head down – he just didn’t look like himself on Sunday,” Manning said.
“I can’t imagine how a father can do that to their kids,” neighbor Jenny Goldstein said.