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Bitter arguing preceded murder-suicide, friends, family say

Audley Dennis, left, with his wife Karen Rodgers-Dennis

Audley Dennis, left, with his wife Karen Rodgers-Dennis at a dinner party three days before police say Dennis killed his wife and himself in an apparent murder-suicide in their Elmont home. (Jan. 25, 2013) Credit: Handout

A couple argued bitterly over the wife's weight loss and socializing in the months before police say he shot her to death at their Elmont home, then turned the gun on himself, neighbors and family said Tuesday.

The couple, identified as attorney Karen Rodgers-Dennis, 46, and Audley Dennis, 58, were found dead early Monday evening in the home on Sussex Road, Nassau police said.

"She was basically really enjoying her life at the time and it didn't sit too pretty with him," said Audley's brother Ken Dennis. "I know she was just a lot more active after she lost the weight. . . . She was going out with the girls." He said it was "mostly 'girls night out.' "

Neighbor Simone Dolabaille, 35, a stay-at-home mom, said, "She was very heavy before. And in the past two years, lost a lot. It changed her life. She looked great." She said the effect of the weight loss on Rodgers-Dennis' social life appeared to be a point of contention.

On Monday afternoon, the youngest of their three children tried to get into the home, but he couldn't and went to a neighbor's house. Later, authorities responding to a report of a possible gas leak went inside and found the bodies with gunshot wounds. Rodgers-Dennis was shot in the upper torso and found in a bedroom; her husband was also found in a bedroom, shot in the chest, said Nassau Homicide Squad Det. Sgt. James Skopek. The case is being classified as a murder-suicide, said police spokesman Det. Vincent Garcia.

According to neighbors and family, the youngest child is a student at nearby Elmont Memorial High School; their older children are students at Williams College, in Massachusetts, and Villanova University, in Pennsylvania.

Skopek said the only other domestic incident involving the couple appears to be a 5-year-old case that didn't result in arrest.

Ken Dennis, 54, of St. Albans, Queens, said his older brother was frustrated over his wife's Facebook posts and would complain that "she was having fun doing her thing."

"He was a little frustrated," he said. "Maybe he saw his world just breaking up in front of him and he couldn't take it."

Close friend Patrick O'Connor, 46, of Valley Stream, said he, the couple and others had gone out Friday night for a friend's 50th birthday. "They were great," he said, weeping.

But neighbors said the couple would argue -- loudly -- not only about the weight loss, but also their children, groceries and money.

Neighbor Dejon Nemorin said Rodgers-Dennis used to say hello when she'd pass him, but stopped. "I'd seen that she had stress on her face," Nemorin said. "I'd seen on her face that she was struggling."

With John Valenti

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