Wednesday, December 19, 2012
CORNWALL — A husband shot his wife to death and then killed himself, state police said.
Joseph Oliva, 58, and Sandra Oliva, 54, were found dead on Friday by troopers responding to a suspected murder-suicide at their residence on Mine Hill Road in the Town of Cornwall, police said.
The bodies were taken to Orange Regional Medical Center in the Town of Wallkill for autopsies.
"They were wonderful people," said Donna McMahon, whose backyard overlooks the Olivas' property. "I just don't understand."
Police have not said what prompted them to check on the residence. But McMahon said she first noticed officers knocking on the windows and trying to get into the home sometime between noon and 12:30 p.m.
Another neighbor, Patricia Wemmer, at first noticed the police cars parked outside the house. Her son then called home after he began hearing rumors about the shooting.
Wemmer did not know the Olivas. But "even if you don't know them you feel horrible," she said.
"After listening all day to what was going on with the school shooting, and then to have that was almost like having a double whammy at your doorstep," Wemmer said.
The Olivas bought their two-bedroom contemporary-style home in 1995, McMahon said. The couple had a daughter in college and were known to have regular summer pool parties, she said.
Just a week ago Joseph Oliva decorated the house with Christmas lights.
"They were really beautiful lights," McMahon said.