Police: Well-known Florida couple die in murder-suicide

Author: Associated Press

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) – A well-known St. Petersburg couple whose bodies were found in their home on Friday died in a murder-suicide, police said.

Former St. Petersburg police officer Gerard Joseph Stempinski, 69, shot his wife, Marie Stempinski, then himself, police said.

Gerard worked for 25 years as a police officer and detective before becoming a successful financial adviser, The Tampa Bay Times reported (http://bit.ly/1r8VW21 ). Marie, 72, was president of a communications firm and a frequent business columnist for the paper. A former television reporter, she also taught TV and radio production at St. Petersburg College.

A friend told the newspaper that Gerard had seemed depressed recently because of an injury that required him to use a walking cane. Marie had also recently suffered a severe hip injury.

“He once told me, ‘If you don’t have health, then you don’t have anything,'” family friend Hardy Bryan III told the newspaper. “He basically went from someone who was very healthy to almost an old man overnight.”

Police were called after the couple’s daughter alerted friends that she hadn’t heard from her parents. People became concerned when Gerard Stempinski did not show up for work at the financial services firm where he was an associate vice president for investments.

Outside the couple’s home, former St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster lowered a U.S. flag hanging there to half-staff.

“(Gerard) and Marie were a fantastic couple,” Foster told the Times. “Both were very involved in the city. They loved St. Petersburg. They were never going to move. I guess I just wanted to honor them somehow.”

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