41 year-old Gary Crockett and his girlfriend Nickie Hunt both plunged to their death off the George Washington Bridge on Wednesday, police officials reported, and it appears the reason for the double suicide traces back to a recent homicide.
Facing economic hard times, Hunt and her boyfriend moved in with her uncle, William Valenti, 70, in the quiet village of Suffern, New York. During their stay, Valenti began to realize his bank account was coming up short. Police officials, who are trying to put together the pieces of this odd story, believe that Valenti confronted Crockett and Hunt over $16,000 in missing funds from his bank account. It is believed both Hunt and Crockett tackled Valenti and suffocated him on his bed, then left him there to rot.
To cover their tracks, the duo left a note on the back door of the home stating, ” We took Uncle Bill to the hospital and we’ll call you later on.” Valenti’s body was discovered on Monday by his nephew, who realized his uncle was not where he claimed to be. Suffern Police Chief Clarke Osborn believes the note was used to distract friends and relatives as Hunt and Crockett planned their suicide.
“Obviously, it was a diversion tactic so we wouldn’t go in,” Osborn said. “By the time we were called to the house, they had already jumped off the bridge.”
While investigating the crime scene in Valenti’s home, Detective Craig Long found a second note written by Hunt, showing all was not well in her life before the murder. The message was addressed to Nickie’s four children, who had not been living with her at the time. She wrote that her children were “the four most amazing kids this world has ever seen or ever will.” Nothing was mentioned nothing about the murder or her plans to commit suicide with Crockett.
The note went on to add, “Anything that goes in the paper, please make sure my last name is Hunt; I don’t want to hurt my kids any more than I already have.” The note continued as Hunt spoke of her heroin addiction and offers insight as to her addiction being a strong factor in her desire to commit suicide, although there was no direct mention of the murder.
“The tenor of the note indicates that she is’ going down a dark road’ but does not specifically mention suicide,” Long mentioned, adding that Crockett left no notes to anyone.
Both Hunt and Crockett had been in trouble with the law before. Nickie Hunt had been arrested for grand larceny and forgery, while Gary Crockett had done time for possession of narcotics. No drugs were found at the residence or on the bodies of the accused at the time of the investigation.
Shortly after Hunt and Crockett took the life of Valenti, they stole his Chevrolet Malibu and drove 20 miles from the home to the bridge. Police were called to the scene when onlookers saw a “white man and white woman in their 40s” leap from the bridge that fit the profile of the suspects. When rescuers dragged the bodies from the water, they found no identification on either of them. However, they did find Valenti’s car keys in Nickie Hunt’s pants pocket. While the two suspects have been positively identified, the Malibu has yet to be recovered.
According to Police Chief Osborn, the murder and double suicide rocked the small community of Suffern, which has not seen anything this horrid in over a decade. Mayor Trish Abato lamented over the loss of Valenti who was known in the community as a kind and hardworking man who owned a catering business in the nearby town of Ramapo, as well as for the loss of Hunt and Crockett, who obviously needed help long before things escalated to the point they did.
“This family is from the village — very much part of the village,” Abato explained. She then added how relieved she and the residents were that the murder was an isolated incident and posed no threat to others in the community. “There was relief and sadness all at the same time.”
On Suffern killing/double suicide: Cops ID couple as Gary W. Crockett, 41, and Valenti’s niece, Nickie Hunt Circelli, 40, both of Suffern.
— LoHud Rockland (@InsideRockland) April 30, 2014
— Crichton Raschke (@pudyvetu) April 30, 2014