COMMERCIAL TOWNSHIP — Friends and neighbors of Scott and Stacy Rector said they were a loving couple who tended a little garden together and supported each other.
That is why the gruesome discovery of their bodies on their bed in their mobile home on Samuel Drive, a quiet, wooded street in the township’s Laurel Lake section, has shocked those that knew them.
State Police said Thursday morning that they believe Stacy Rector, 28, shot her 30-year-old husband and their two dogs before turning the gun on herself. They said later that they are still trying to determine which person was the shooter, and that they found a semiautomatic handgun at the scene.
State Police said investigators also found what they are calling a suicide note at the scene but authorities are not releasing its contents.
“Investigators are waiting for medical autopsy reports to make final determinations as to who caused this tragic event and why,” State Police said in a statement, although they did not say when those final determinations would be made.
Cumberland County Prosecutor Jennifer Webb-McCrae, whose office is investigating the incident in connection with State Police, said in a statement that she had no comment about what happened to the Rectors.
But none of what happened makes any sense to the people who knew the Rectors. The couple was described as happy partners who showed no signs of any problems with their relationship.
The couple seemed upbeat when they attended a birthday party with friends this past weekend, said Clint Miller, manager of the township’s Public Works Department and Scott Rector’s boss.
“They were happy as larks in a meadow,” Miller said. “They had a good time.”
Miller said the couple even went through weight-loss surgery together about a year ago. They were both doing well in their weight-loss efforts, he said.
About the only problem that Miller said he could imagine was money.
Scott Rector worked for the township as a laborer-truck driver. While township officials did not respond to a request by The Press of Atlantic City for Scott’s Rector’s salary, Miller said Scott Rector’s annual pay was in the low- to mid- $30,000 range. He said Stacy Rector had lost her job with a veterinarian office. A woman who answered the phone at the Animal Hospital of Millville on North Sharp Street said the facility had no comment about Stacy Rector.
While it is not clear when Stacy Rector lost her job, it apparently occurred as she was finishing nursing school, Miller said. The couple was concerned about finding the money needed for Stacy Rector to continue with her nursing career, he said.
Otherwise, Miller said, the Rectors were “best friends. They were always in love.”
No information was available about when the Rectors were married. Both were graduates of Millville High School. Scott Rector graduated in 2000, and his wife got her diploma two years later.
A neighbor identified one of the dogs as Boomer, saying the animal was sick and about 13 years old. Friends and neighbors identified the other dog as an 18-month-old bird dog named Jiggs.
State Police said a township employee went to the Rectors’ house about 6 p.m. Wednesday because Scott Rector had not shown up for work since last week. They said the employee and another man entered the house after smelling a bad odor and found the Rectors in their bed.
Loren Schuh, who lives next to the Rectors, said a friend of Scott Rector broke into the house. Schuh said he accompanied the man to the Rectors’ tan mobile home and, although he did not smell any bad odors, saw flies on the interior of a window.
“You knew something was up,” Schuh said.
Schuh said he did not enter the Rectors’ home, but the man who did was horrified at what he found. That man was on the scene Thursday morning. He would not identify himself or give any comment.
Schuh said the Rectors lived in their home for at least six years. He said they always seemed happy and did not argue any more than did other married couples.
The Rectors have a garden next to their home. Schuh said Stacy Rector recently brought him peppers from that garden, telling him that she and her husband had more peppers than they could eat.
Dorothy Dickinson, who lives across the street from the Rectors, said the incident “was a shock to me.”
“I would see them out in the garden,” she said. “They were never doing anything wrong.”
State Police, who patrol the township that has no police department, remained on the scene for part of Thursday as the investigation continued.
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