St. Petersburg, Florida: Man Shoots Wheelchair-Bound Wife And Then Kills Himself

A well-known and respected St. Petersburg couple fell victim to a tragic murder-suicide this weekend. The bodies of Gerard Stempinski, 69, and his wife Marie, 72, were found on Friday. Authorities speculate that Gerard, who allegedly was suffering from depression over a gym injury that forced him to use a cane, shot his wheelchair-bound wife and then himself. Mrs. Stempinski was disabled due to a recent hip injury which forced her to either use a walker or a wheelchair for mobility.

According to the Daily Mail, Gerard Stempinski was a former police officer who had become a financial adviser. Mrs. Gerard was a former television reporter who later transitioned into a career as a public relations consultant. Both were well known to neighbors and the city at large.

St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster commented on the Stempinskis’ connection to St. Petersburg.

“[Gerard] and Marie were a fantastic couple. Both were very involved in the city. They loved St. Petersburg. They were never going to move.”

The deaths were discovered on Friday by family friend Hardy Bryan III. Bryan phoned police after the couple’s daughter, Roseann, a resident of San Francisco, phoned him and told him that she had been unsuccessful in reaching her parents by phone and after he went to the family home and knocked repeatedly but could only hear the couple’s dog barking. Also, Mr. Stempinski failed to show up for work on Friday, something that had never happened before, according to Bryan.

When police arrived on the scene at around 9 p.m. they found Gary Stempinski’s body in the hallway and Marie’s body in her home office.

Gary had been a member of the St. Petersburg police force for 25 years before pursuing a career as a financial adviser. He was an associate vice president of investments at Raymond James & Associates at the time of his death. Marie held a number of positions over the years, including business consultant, TV journalist, and contributor to the Tampa Bay Times. Both of the Stempinskis worked up until the day of their deaths.

Marie’s doctors had told her that she would be wheelchair dependent for the rest of her life as a result of the hip injury that she sustained due to a fall.

Hardy noted that Gary had been depressed, and he had planned to suggest to him that he get psychiatric help on their next lunch outing. He noted that Stempinski was planning to retire in another six or seven years but feared that he would have to do so sooner due to his concerns over his mobility issues. Marie had also noted his depression. Hardy said that Gary’s physical health deteriorated almost overnight.

“Gary was always the picture of health. He once told me, ‘If you don’t have health, then you don’t have anything.’ He basically went from someone who was very healthy to almost an old man overnight.”

The Tampa Bay Times reports that a half-flag was flown in front of the Stempinskis’ home at 700 35th Ave. N on Saturday in honor of their many contributions to the city’s business, journalism, civic affairs, and law enforcement communities.

During the 25 years that he was employed by the St. Petersburg Police Department, Gary worked as a police officer, a detective, and a training officer. In the 1990s, in his role as a law enforcement officer, he frequently coordinated cases for the Nuisance Abatement Board.

The Stempinskis had been married since 1973. They purchased the family home in which they died in 1994.

Police say that Gary shot his wife and then himself with the same handgun.

[Image via Twitter]