The Garden City mother and her two daughters died violently, one by one. In the hours that passed after the killings and before the father took his own life, he carefully laid their bodies side by side on a hotel bed.
Rather than a sudden convulsion of violence, police believe William Parente, a Manhattan attorney with alleged financial troubles, who was upset over the death of his mother a year ago, spent hours in the room after he fatally beat and asphyxiated his wife, Betty. He then turned on Catherine, a sixth-grader with bangs and a love of sports. Later, his older daughter, Stephanie, known as "Little Steph" around her Baltimore college campus, arrived at the hotel room. She met the same fate.
"We do not believe . . . that she lived for any length of time after she entered the room," said Cpl. Michael Hill of the Baltimore County police.
Two days after the family was found dead, business people chatted on cell phones in the lobby of the Baltimore Sheraton North hotel or watched a Rangers game in the bar.
The 10th floor - where the family died - was empty and quiet.
Wednesday, their sudden end continued to reverberate among those who knew them.
Marlies Heitmann, of Manhattan, who hired Parente as her corporate tax attorney more than a decade ago, said "his daughters were his life. Every time he spoke about them, he would light up."
About five years ago, she said, "I happened to bump into him when his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. He broke down into tears when he told me. . . . With him, it was all wife and kids, wife and kids."
Police in Towson, a Baltimore suburb, Wednesday described how Parente killed Betty, 58, Catherine, 11, and Stephanie, 19, then himself during a family trip to visit the older girl, a sophomore at Loyola College in Maryland.
After a family breakfast Sunday, police said, Stephanie left the group. The others returned to their hotel room in the late morning. There, Parente struck Betty with a blunt object and cut off her air supply. An unknown amount of time passed before he killed Catherine, a sixth-grader at Garden City Middle School, in the same fashion.
Stephanie returned to the hotel in the afternoon, Hill said, and called or texted her father from the lobby before going to the room. She was probably killed upon entering, police said.
Close to midnight, Parente was in the room with the three bodies when he spoke briefly with a roommate of Stephanie's who had called, saying she was staying at the hotel. At some point, he arranged their bodies neatly on the king-size bed. He later cut himself with a knife and bled to death on the bathroom floor, police said.
Detectives removed several hotel-owned objects from the room, but it was not clear yet which, if any, were murder weapons, police said. A card was used to access the room about 4 p.m.; there was no indication that William Parente could have left the room after then. Toxicology test results were not available Wednesday.
The revelations about how the family died came as the FBI acknowledged that it has launched an investigation of William Parente's investment dealings. The probe began Wednesday after numerous investors complained to Baltimore police, an FBI spokesman said.
Bayside attorney Bruce Montague, 47, told Newsday on Tuesday that he has hundreds of thousands of dollars in investments that Parente managed. After repeated attempts to retrieve the money in recent months, two checks for $245,000 bounced Tuesday, he said.