By Jay Cook |
HOLMDEL – The deaths of a married couple in one of the newest, upscale developments in Monmouth County is believed to be the result of a murder-suicide, authorities say.
On Friday, Aug. 11, Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni announced the office was investigating a report of two deceased adults found inside their million-dollar home at 4 Paddington Court.
The initial 911 call came to the Holmdel Police Department at about 1:20 p.m. on Aug. 10, when a teenage male discovered Arshad Zarak, 52, and Asma Hussain, 42, both “obviously deceased” in the master bedroom of their home, Gramiccioni said in a statement.
During the investigation, authorities said they found Zarak lying in his bed with two gunshot wounds to the head. Hussain was found lying facedown on the bedroom floor, with a single gunshot wound to the head and a gun still clutched in her hand. No other firearms were found in the immediate vicinity of either victim, police said.
Examinations by the Middlesex County Regional Medical Examiner’s Office, which works under agreement with Monmouth County, determined that Hussain shot her husband twice, then took her own life, Gramiccioni said on Friday.
Holmdel Committeeman Mike Nikolis, who is also president of Holmdel First Aid, said his squad was dispatched to standby and then later had that order cancelled. He said the department was never on location.
According to his professional Linkedin profile, Zarak was recently a systems integration specialist for Nuvitel. He previously worked at AT&T Laboratories as the principal member of technical staff. Zarak was a 1997 graduate of City University of New York.
According to public Monmouth County property records, Zarak and Hussain were in the midst of moving their family of five across town.
Records show the couple had lived for four years on Banyan Boulevard, inside The Woods at Holmdel residential condominium complex, beginning in 2013. That development is located on Laurel Avenue across from Holmdel Towne Center.
Zarak and Hussain then purchased the 4 Paddington Lane house for more than $1.6 million in late July, and took out a $1.15 million mortgage on the residence.
That property is located inside the “Reserve at Holmdel” upscale residential complex, as part of the nearly 400-acre Bell Works redevelopment project currently underway in Holmdel. The homes are being designed and built by Toll Brothers.
On Paddington Lane, one of the few side streets in the “Reserve at Holmdel” development, Zarak and Hussain’s house and one other residence were the only two completed properties. Two others are still under construction.
According to Toll Brothers, homes are located on approximately 1-acre lots, and feature four bedrooms, three-car garages, 10-foot high first-floor ceilings, and 9-foot high second floor ceilings.
Holmdel Township Mayor Greg Buontempo said earlier this week that the incident is “extremely uncharacteristic of Holmdel.”
“This is a very laid-back community,” he said.
In response to the investigation’s findings, Holmdel Township Superintendent of Schools Robert McGarry sent a message to all families with children in the school district on Friday.
McGarry penned the letter “in response to a tragedy that has touched our school community with the death yesterday of the parents of a set of siblings who attend our schools,” the statement read.
“After any tragic event, a sense of community or togetherness is essential for helping individuals feel supported and cope with their reactions,” McGarry wrote. “I thought it important to foster that sense of togetherness this afternoon by reaching out to you.”
He noted a number of different intervention and helpline contacts for parents to provide to their children.
Buontempo added that he believes Holmdel residents will “rally around the impacted individuals.”
Committeeman Nikolis, who said last week’s incident was “tragic, sad, and unfortunate,” recalled a similar situation in 2010 on Red Hill Road, when former model Carina Schlesinger, 36, shot 29-year-old Daniel Cresci to death in her one-bedroom home, before she set the house on fire and shot herself. He was on scene there as an EMT.
In October, 2016, police investigated another murder-suicide. Tyree Johnson, 32, was suspected of killing Christy Keronen, 29, in Lakewood at his home. He was found dead, hanging from a utility truck, on South Holmdel Road.
“This is not the first time this has happened,” Nikolis said. “And unfortunately, it won’t be the last.”
This article was first published in the Aug. 17-24, 2017 print edition of The Two River Times.
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