Investigation of child's murder, dad's suicide about wrapped up

Last updated: October 28. 2013 11:34PM - 4618 Views
JON O'CONNELL joconnell@timesleader.com

A memorial has been set up outside the home in Forty Fort where Nicholas Shultz shot and killed his almost 2-year-old daughter and then took his own life Sunday.
A memorial has been set up outside the home in Forty Fort where Nicholas Shultz shot and killed his almost 2-year-old daughter and then took his own life Sunday.
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FORTY FORT — Sunday's murder/suicide on Wesley Street brought back Marcella Vitaletti's memories of her journey through a similar tragedy more than 16 years ago.
When Vitaletti learned that Nicholas Shultz, 34, had killed his almost 2-year-old daughter, Camryn, and then turned his gun on himself, she was swept back to June 1997, when her ex-husband, Frank Ledahawsky, shot and killed their son, Anthony Vitale, who was 10 years old.
Vitale and Ledahawsky had been taking a trip together. The two were good pals and were returning from Broadway in New York City, where they had seen their favorite play together. While stopping at a hotel in Pike County, Ledahawsky shot his son and then himself.
A motive was never determined, but some believe Ledahawsky acted out of depression.
“It was 17 years ago,” Vitaletti said. “And the one thing I've learned … with the logical mind that we have, you can't explain an irrational act. You have no idea what he was thinking, what other crap was surfacing.”
In Forty Fort, Nick Shultz had been separated from his wife and Camryn's mother, Jessica, for about 10 days, and the two were working out the details of a divorce.
Vitaletti said that while there's no way to know exactly what Jessica might be feeling, she has a frame of reference.
“I don't know anything about him (Nick Shultz). Mine was a lawyer. He was a great guy. He was a good father,” she said.
'Saddest thing'
Forty Fort Police Chief Dan Hunsinger on Monday said the Shultz investigation is wrapping up. There was no search warrant issued for the house and the Luzerne County coroner did not conduct an autopsy. Officials have ruled their deaths a murder/suicide.
Shultz family members declined comment Monday afternoon.
Hunsinger said that from questioning family and friends, Nicholas Shultz's actions have shocked everyone who knew him.
“There really doesn't seem to be any reason that it would escalate to this,” Hunsinger said. “There was a mutually agreed upon divorce. She wasn't blocking him from visitation; she was going to give up the house; she wasn't going to go after his pension at work; there were no problems with custody. … I was told by many people that he was a gentle giant. His daughter was the apple of his eye.”
“I've seen a lot of gory scenes, but this is by far the saddest thing I've ever seen,” the chief said.
Psychologist Robert E. Griffin, a therapist who works in Forty Fort, said that in these tragedies, people believe understanding a motive might bring solace to the moment.
“We want to figure things out and think somehow that will help us,” Griffin said. “But the only person who would have had access to that information is gone.”
Perspective lost
Griffin said divorce often brings intense anger coupled with a perceived lack of options. He said he was unfamiliar with the Shultz case and could not make a comment as to their specific circumstances.
“When people are going through divorce, they'll often lose complete perspective. They can't see a future anymore that is worthwhile,” Griffin said.
He said family members and friends often assume blame, which is natural but incorrect. There is no logic in suicide, and it is most frustrating when loved ones cannot explain the gross insensibility.
On Monday, quiet had returned to Wesley Street. Neighbors said they knew little about the Shultz family and rarely saw them entering or leaving the small house.
Vitaletti, 61, of Kingston, said she still weeps for her son, but she has determined to live a full life despite his absence.
“It takes a long time to sort through,” Vitaletti said. “But it's doable. The grief part, the sorrow, it's doable. It won't kill you.”
“I made a choice that I was going to honor my son by living my best life. I'm living for the both of us, and he wouldn't have it any other way,” she said.

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