Patrick J. Biller, a phone
company technician, was described by co-worker Brian Abdallah as a scary
individual. "He was unpredictable. He had some temper. He explodes
at people. He cursed at the boss and walked out of the office."
Biller was driven to commit
family annihilation by mounting health and money problems. He developed
a heart condition and had as many as six bypass operations. He also
underwent a kidney operation that didn't go too well, and a gallbladder
operation. Meanwhile his wife developed breast cancer. "His health
was deteriorating. He had financial pressures of school tuition, a
mortgage and lack of overtime due to light duty. He just couldn't see an
alternative," said a co-worker.
5 Dead in Yonkers in Apparent
By Robert D. McFadden - The New York Times
December 6, 1997
A 53-year-old Yonkers man described by
neighbors as quick tempered and troubled by health problems,
finances and a failing marriage apparently shot his wife and three
children to death and then killed himself in the family's
apartment before dawn yesterday, the police reported.
Alerted at 5:48 A.M. by a mother-in-law who shared
the two-family house and said she had heard what sounded like
firecrackers upstairs, Yonkers police officers broke into a five-room,
second-floor apartment at 269 Mary Lou Avenue, a well-kept, red-brick
duplex on a tree-lined street of working-class homes.
In the living room, they found the bodies of Patrick
J. Biller, a telephone repairman, and his wife, Maureen, 49. In one
bedroom, the couple's son, Patrick Jr, 20, a college student, was
sprawled on the floor. In a second bedroom, two daughters, Erin, 14, and
Courtney, 8, lay dead in their beds.
All were clad in nightclothes and had been shot in
the head with a pistol found beside Mr. Biller, who, the police said,
had apparently committed suicide after methodically slaying his family.
''It's a shame,'' said Pete Anselmo, a neighbor who
had known the family for 25 years. ''The guy might have been calling out
for help, and nobody listened to him.''
But snapping his finger, he added: ''You just don't
do things like this. You'd think that if you couldn't take it anymore,
you'd kill yourself. But why these kids? Why these beautiful kids?''
The slayings stunned a neighborhood where some
families have lived for decades, where Mr. Biller was known as a
meticulous householder: the first on the block to put up outdoor
Christmas lights each year, a man who carefully trimmed his hedges and
almost compulsively raked leaves and cleaned his sidewalk.
Acquaintances remembered Mrs. Biller as a friendly,
courteous, thoughtful woman who volunteered time for charity work. Lynn
Stone, speaking for the Jewish Guild for the Blind, said she had
assisted handicapped people with physical therapy and other assistance.
The Biller children were recalled by friends and
classmates as fun-loving young people and good students: Patrick Jr. at
Westchester Community College, Erin at Maria Regina High School in
Hartsdale, and Courtney at Christ the King Elementary School in Yonkers.
Detective Capt. George Rutledge said at a news
conference that the police had little doubt about what had happened, but
had not determined the motive for the killings. But neighbors said that
Mr. Biller had suffered two heart attacks recently, had been on
disability leave from Bell Atlantic since undergoing open heart surgery
in September, and was worried about mounting bills.
While he was to return to work this month, he was
also troubled, neighbors said, by the apparent failure of his marriage.
Catherine Miaris, whose son, George, 12, had been a close friend of
Erin's, recalled that the teen-age girl had told her two months ago that
that her parents were talking of divorce.
''She was hysterical, crying,'' Mrs. Miaris said of
Erin on the morning her mother told her she was going to see a lawyer.
But Mrs. Miaris said the threat of divorce had
apparently receded. ''The father said he would fight the wife,'' she
said. ''He didn't want to be dragged through the courts. They were
supposed to be getting a divorce, but they decided I guess that they
Maureen Flanagan, a spokeswoman for Bell Atlantic,
said Mr. Biller had joined the telephone company in October 1970, and
had worked for most of the intervening years as an installer and a
repairman, making service calls at homes and businesses in the Yonkers
She said Mr. Biller had gone on disability leave in
September and was scheduled to return to work on Dec. 15. She said she
could not discuss medical details, citing privacy, but Mr. Anselmo said
Mr. Biller had suffered two heart attacks, had undergone open heart
surgery and lost considerable weight.
Besides his medical problems, Mr. Anselmo said, Mr.
Biller seemed to have money troubles. ''He had been out of work for a
while,'' he said. ''From what I understood, he was under a lot of
pressure from bills. He had had these attacks. They were talking about
retiring him, and he said he couldn't afford that.''
While neighbors described Mr. Biller as friendly and
cordial, others said he was quick to anger. ''I was scared of him,''
Brian Abdalah, a former co-worker, told The Associated Press. ''He was
unpredictable. He had some temper.''
Mr. Anselmo said Mr. Biller was compulsive about
neatness. ''Pat was like a neat freak,'' he said. ''Everything had to be
perfect.'' He said Mr. Biller cleaned his sidewalks daily, often painted
his driveway, always seemed to be raking leaves in the fall and was the
first to put up lights at Christmas.
But there were no seasonal decorations up yesterday
at the two-family house the family shared with Mrs. Biller's mother,
Blanche Mullins, who occupied the ground floor. Mrs. Mullins was not the
only person who heard the gunshots, but it was she who called the police.
Within minutes, the officers arrived. They walked
through a neatly trimmed hedge and across a small front yard swept clean
of leaves, then up an exterior stair to the silent second floor. The
door was locked, and they forced it and went in.
As word of what they found spread through the
neighborhood, disbelief gave way to sobs in many homes, and there were
poignant recollections of a family suddenly gone; of Mrs. Biller aiding
patients in wheelchairs, of Patrick Jr. playing street hockey as a boy
and later dating girls and learning to draw, of Erin sobbing over her
parents' troubles and glowing when a boy gave her red roses, of little
Courtney learning to swim last summer.
Mrs. Miaris recalled breaking the news to her son,
George, after picking him up at school.
''What about the brother?'' he said.
She replied: ''All of them, Georgie, all of them.''
''Even Courtney?'' he said.
Man kills family and self
Slay-suicide stuns Yonkers
Saturday, December 6th 1997
A Yonkers father shot and killed his wife and three
children as they slept in their Westchester home just before dawn
yesterday, then turned the gun on himself, police said, leaving behind a
trail of bodies and unanswered questions.
Police identified the gunman as Patrick Biller, 53, a
Bell Atlantic technician who had health and marital problems, and
sometimes flashed an uncontrollable temper, according to neighbors and
Yet no one could fathom why Biller would kill his
"All evidence suggests . . . a murder-suicide," said
Yonkers Police Capt. George Rutledge.
Sources said Biller used a .38-caliber handgun,
although police did not immediately confirm what type of gun was found
at the scene.
A neighbor, Donna Shine, said her husband was leaving
for work about 5:30 a.m. when "he heard a bang, bang, bang" coming from
the Billers' two-family home across the street. He heard nothing further
and left, figuring "someone was fixing a jammed window or something."
Biller's mother-in-law, who lives downstairs from the
family, called police a few minutes later.
Yonkers cops arrived at the brick-faced home at 269
Mary Lou Ave., overlooking the Saw Mill River Parkway, at 5:48 a.m. and
forced their way into the second-floor apartment.
They found the bodies of Biller and his wife and
their three children, Patrick Jr., 20, Erin, 14, and Courtney, 8.
Neighbor Catherine Miaris said Biller's wife, Maureen,
49, had asked for a divorce this year. She decided not to go through
with it when Biller threatened to put up a legal fight, Miaris said.
A friend of the family, Dominick Vecchiarello, 69,
said Biller did not seem depressed. The two spoke every morning to
compare notes on medications, since both had recently undergone open-heart
Another friend, West Wuestenhoefer, described Biller
as "a good family man." He said doctors recently gave Biller the green
light to return to work after his surgery.
"You wouldn't expect something like this from him,"
Wuestenhoefer said. "Kill yourself, if you want to, but don't turn the
gun on your wife and kids."
But others said Biller's temper often got the best of
"I was scared of him," said Brian Abdallah, a former
co-worker. "He was unpredictable. He had some temper. He explodes at
people. He cursed at the boss and walked out of the office."
Late yesterday afternoon, neighbor George Miaris, 13,
and his mother, Catherine, placed two bouquets of red roses outside the
Biller's daughter Erin had a crush on George, his
mother said, and used to attend all of his football and baseball games.
"Why did her father do it?" George asked. "Why?"