Apparent murder-suicide in NJ

March 17, 2009 4:47:32 PM PDT
Police say a woman found dead Monday night and a man found dead Tuesday afternoon appear to be victims of a murder-suicide. The brother of Donna Harbula, 56, called police just before 8:00 p.m. Monday night, saying he found Harbula unconscious in her home at 23 Nortonville Road in Logan Township, New Jersey.

Police found Harbula with a single gunshot wound to the head. Outside a partially open window, police say, were two shotgun shells.

Officers attempted to execute a search warrant at around 1:00 p.m. Tuesday at the home of her husband, Walter Oswald, at 44 W. Vine Street in the Gibbstown section of Greenwich Township.

There police say Oswald was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

"This is just shocking for the whole family," said Harbula's daughter Lisa Borton. "We love her so much and we tried to be there for her. We just didn't know that [Oswald] was that dangerous."

Investigators say the two had had a history of domestic violence, including an incident about 4:15 p.m. Saturday at Harbula's residence in which police were called and removed Oswald.

"He was a violent person, and we tried to get him out of her life. She made her own decision," Borton said.

Harbula subsequently obtained a temporary restraining order against Oswald.

In a tragic twist, Oswald also was arrested on a weapons possession charge after being found visibly intoxicated and carrying a shotgun in a duffel bag late Saturday by New Jersey State Police. He was on foot along Route 130, about two miles from the Harbula residence.

State troopers who took him into custody were unaware of the TRO Harbula had obtained, since it had not yet been entered into automated records, and Oswald was released on his own recognizance.

Investigators now believe Oswald had already killed Harbula when he was arrested. A short time later, after being released, police believe Oswald killed himelf.

In April 2001, Oswald's son lead police on a high-speed chase and killed himself in Deptford, New Jersey. He was wanted for three murders in Florida in 1998.

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