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Source: Elderly Fair Lawn Couple Shot Dead By Son

Acting Bergen County Prosecutor Gurbir Grewal, right, with Fair Lawn Police Chief Glen Cauwels, left, and Deputy BCPO Police Chief Robert Anzolotti, middle.
Acting Bergen County Prosecutor Gurbir Grewal, right, with Fair Lawn Police Chief Glen Cauwels, left, and Deputy BCPO Police Chief Robert Anzolotti, middle. Photo Credit: Cecilia Levine
The bodies of Richard and Barbara Ann Tempe and their son, Richard Jr. were found in the burning house.
The bodies of Richard and Barbara Ann Tempe and their son, Richard Jr. were found in the burning house. Photo Credit: Cecilia Levine
The site was officially declared a crime scene.
The site was officially declared a crime scene. Photo Credit: Damien Danis for Daily Voice

FAIR LAWN, N.J. -- An elderly Fair Lawn couple whose bodies were found during a fire at their home late Wednesday were each shot in the back of the head by their 53-year-old son, who then turned the gun on himself, a law enforcement source with knowledge of the incident told Daily Voice.

Richard Tempe Jr. was found slumped over in a chair, the weapon nearby, the source said.

The body of his mother, Barbara Ann Tempe, was found in a hallway of the home at 13-24 Fourth Street and his father's near a window he apparently was trying to climb out of, the source said.

Acting Bergen County Prosecutor Gurbir S. Grewal confirmed that their son was responsible. He didn't elaborate.

"During a search of the crime scene a handgun was recovered, and is believed to be the weapon used," Grewal said in a brief release early Thursday evening. "It was also determined that the fire was intentionally set following the murders."

Richard Tempe, 76, retired from the Fair Lawn Board of Education in July 1989, records show. Barbara Tempe was 73.

Their son was a target shooter who lost a job years ago as a card dealer in Atlantic City, a former neighbor told Daily Voice.

"He always was a bit off," she said. "He also had a giant St. Bernard in his back yard. I was so afraid of it."

A neighbor said Richard Jr. took odd jobs around town, never seemed to have a girlfriend and never drove.

Grewal said he awaiting autopsy results from the county Medical Examiner before officially declaring the cause of death.

However, he said during a news conference outside the home Thursday morning that "the matter is limited to a domestic event" and that the weapon was recovered.

A neighbor reported the fire at 11:36 p.m., and the house was declared a crime scene a short time later.

Firefighters officially deemed the blaze under control around 12:35 a.m.

Saddle Brook firefighters joined their Fair Lawn colleagues and police at the scene. Also responding was the Bergen County Sheriff's Bureau of Criminal Identification, to collect evidence.

A firefighter was hospitalized with undetermined injuries but was released around 7 a.m., Mayor John Cosgrove said.

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