Several hours elapsed from the time a North Bellmore construction worker grappling with marital and legal problems stabbed his wife to death in their kitchen to when police found him hanging upstairs, police and a law enforcement source said.
A day after the apparent murder-suicide that sent shock waves through the neighborhood, more details emerged about the couple's troubled relationship and the horrific scene that unfolded inside the tidy blue house.
Sherrelle Hayes, 44, had been having an affair with another man for several months and was considering a divorce, the law enforcement source said.
Thomas P. Hayes, 43, recently pleaded guilty to theft of government property and was likely to get probation at his sentencing in U.S. District Court in Manhattan on May 22, said his lawyer, Marc Gann of Mineola. He said Hayes had faced a maximum of 6 to 12 months for selling them on eBay.
On Tuesday morning, Hayes stabbed his wife three times with a knife in the kitchen of the family's Smith Avenue home, then moved her body to the laundry room, said Det. Sgt. Gregg Lesmeister. It wasn't until midafternoon that Thomas Hayes hanged himself in a locked second-floor bedroom, after he told his elder daughter, who had returned home from school, to go fetch her siblings, police said.
When all four children -- girls 10 and 13, and boys 7 and 9 -- returned home at about 3:30 p.m. they found their mother dead and a note telling them to call police.
"911. 911. Really. All parents are hurt," the note said, according to the law enforcement source.
The 13-year-old called 911 on her cellphone.
The law enforcement source said Thomas Hayes knew his wife was having an affair, which had started about four to five months ago. That morning, the law enforcement source said, Sherrelle Hayes was exchanging text messages with her boyfriend. It's not clear if those messages sparked the argument.
Sherrelle Hayes drove her children to school that morning before returning home to get ready to head to Jericho, where she worked for an insurance company, Lesmeister said.
Thomas Hayes had arrived home from his overnight shift at a construction site in Manhattan. At about 9 a.m., the time when Sherrelle Hayes typically would have been at work, neighbors heard the couple arguing inside, Lesmeister said.
When the 13-year-old daughter returned home from school, Thomas Hayes was still alive. As the girl left to gather her siblings, she saw her father walk to the car, open the car door then turn to go back inside the house, the law enforcement source said.
When the four children returned, they found the front door locked and went around to a back door. Inside they saw blood in the kitchen and found their mother's body in the laundry room, the law enforcement source said. There was a knife in the kitchen sink, the dishwasher was running and a man's bloody clothes were found inside the washing machine, the source said.
When police arrived, they headed to the second-floor bedroom. They kicked the door down and found Hayes hanging by a piece of fabric attached to a hook in the ceiling. A ladder that had been knocked over was nearby, the law enforcement source said. Police attempted CPR and rushed him to Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow, where he was pronounced dead at 4:26 p.m., police said.
The children are with relatives, Lesmeister said.
With John Valenti,
and Kevin Deutsch