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Murder-suicide couple from LI had troubled past

Officially, there was nothing wrong inside the fifth-floor apartment on West 22nd Street. Police had never been called there and an order of protection had never been issued, but all was not well between Margaux Powers and Jonathan Smith.

They had much in common, for sure, having attended the same exclusive Green Vale School, in Old Brookville, and their families were members of the same country club. But Smith, 34, had grown increasingly menacing, particularly when he drank, those who knew the couple have told police, according to police sources.

Last Thursday, police believe, Powers, 26, told Smith she was breaking up with him and that he had to move out of the Chelsea apartment they had shared for just a few months. He responded, police said, by slashing her throat in a rage, killing her before he committed suicide some two days later, jumping off a building in the Financial District. The case, as far as police are concerned, is over, a murder-suicide with little mystery. But for the families, the grief is only beginning, and yesterday, Powers' family remained holed up in their home on a wooded lane in Glen Cove. Lines of cars were parked alongside the lawn.

A family spokesman described Powers and her father as "great buddies" and said they talked several times a day. Powers, who loved to run and work out, played tennis with her father on Long Island and the pair toted their rackets on family trips around the world.

"Margaux and her dad were great friends," said the spokesman, who did not want to be identified. "They're a very closely engaged family."

In recent months, Powers had been doing research on business schools to pursue a master's degree in finance.

"Obviously she was inspired by her father and his work," the spokesman said.

Meanwhile, a number of her colleagues at Estabrook Capital Management, a Manhattan financial concern where she worked as a portfolio assistant, were learning for the first time what had happened as they returned to work yesterday.

Powers, who worked there for three years, was "a strong team player and a friend to us all," said a company spokesman who requested anonymity.

"Margaux was a remarkable young woman who handled her increasing responsibilities with enthusiasm and professionalism," the spokesman added. "She will be sadly missed."

Powers' dad, Michael, who attended last year's French Open with her and recently traveled with her to China, works for Lazard Asset Management, a respected Manhattan money management company. Yesterday, according to a company source, the firm sent out an e-mail to employees detailing his loss.

Margaux Powers graduated from the elite Taft School, in Connecticut, where she played lacrosse, before spending her college years at the University of Vermont and Cornell. She graduated from Cornell with a bachelor's degree in English.

Smith, whose family in Florida has refused comment, was an unemployed chef who last worked in the kitchen at Cafe Society, a Union Square bistro. After the murder, he tried to cover up what had happened by tidying up the apartment to conceal any signs of a struggle, police sources said. After the killing, he cleaned off the murder weapon, a butcher knife, and heated it up in an attempt to remove any sign of blood specks, police sources said. He also tidied up the apartment to conceal any signs of a struggle.

The attempt worked, at least at first, as Powers' sister, Dana, worried that the family had not heard from her, went to the Chelsea apartment Friday. She left after finding no sign of her sister, though she had not checked behind the closed bathroom door.

On Saturday, however, Dana returned. With a friend and the building's doorman, she found Powers dead in the bathtub, covered by a green blanket, police said. Also in the apartment was an "apologetic note," as one police source said, in which Smith discussed what had happened.

Police started looking for him, but he killed himself before they could find him.

Daniel Edward Rosen contributed to this report.

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