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Westborough couple found dead at home

Officials suspect murder-suicide

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By Stewart Bishop and Vivian Ho
Globe Correspondents / November 19, 2010

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A Westborough husband and wife were found dead in their home yesterday, in what authorities are calling an apparent murder-suicide.

Richard “Todd’’ Bibart, 43, and Rebecca Bibart, 41, were found in their home on Thomas Newton Drive, Worcester District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr. said in a statement. The two were discovered after a neighbor found a note affixed to their front door instructing the Bibarts’ children to stay outside and to call police. At about 4 p.m., Westborough police were called in to perform a well-being check on the family, Early said.

The couple’s two small children were not at home during the incident, Early said.

In a phone interview last night, Tim Connolly, a spokesman for the Worcester district attorney, said he did not know exactly how the couple died. Connolly also said it was unclear if the husband or the wife was the instigator of the killings, and his office did not know if a weapon had been found.

David Oliver, a neighbor, was shocked when he heard what happened. He said Rebecca Bibart was always friendly.

Oliver said he believed that the Bibarts had two children, a daughter and son who were 8 and 5.

“I feel very sad for the kids,’’ he said. “I just hope everything turns out OK for the kids.’’

Early said Rebecca Bibart was found in the finished basement of the house, and Richard Bibart was found in an upstairs bedroom.

After an initial investigation, authorities learned the couple was in the midst of divorce proceedings and the family home was for sale, Early said.

The Bibarts’ children have been placed in the custody of the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families.

Connolly said State Police detectives assigned to the Worcester district attorney’s office, State Police Crime Scene personnel, and Westborough police were on scene investigating late last night. The state Office of the Chief Medical Examiner will conduct autopsies.

In recent months there have been several deadly incidents of domestic violence in the region.

On Saturday, Michael Coutoumas, 48, shot his wife, Cynthia, before turning the gun on himself in their Waltham home, the Middlesex district attorney said.

On Nov. 8, in Auburn, N.H, Mara Pappalardo, 39, and her 4-year-old son were found dead in their home. Pappalardo’s husband, Christopher Smeltzer, 37, was charged with second-degree murder in his wife’s death, but not in his son’s. He and his daughter were also hospitalized for injuries not considered life-threatening.

In September, police investigated another apparent murder-suicide after discovering 33-year-old Eric Johnson’s body in the Connecticut River. When going to notify his 42-year-old wife, Joanne, in their Athol home, they received a 911 call from a family friend reporting that Joanne was dead inside. Neighbors said the Johnsons were going through a difficult divorce.

Another brutal incident occurred in June when Thomas Mortimer IV, 43, killed his wife, mother-in-law, son, and daughter in their Winchester home, Middlesex District Attorney Gerard T. Leone Jr. said. Mortimer was arrested and charged with four counts of first-degree murder.

Stewart Bishop can be reached at sbishop@globe.com; Vivian Ho at vho@globe.com.