RINGWOOD, N.J. (WPIX)—A New Jersey father fatally shot his two young children before turning the gun on himself Monday night in a tragic murder-suicide, authorities said.
According to police, 38-year-old Kurtis Birth was at his childhood home located at 21 Skyview Road in Ringwood when he shot and killed his own children -- 5-year-old Jada and 3-year-old Jordan -- then killed himself.
The home was left vacant and in a state of disrepair after his father died and his mother moved to the Bronx.
Police arrived at the Ringwood house after the children's mother, who reported her children missing after learning that Birth had picked up the children from a Wayne daycare center without her knowledge. Her calls to Birth's cell phone also went unanswered.
When officers arrived, they found Jada's body on an outside stairway landing. Cops then found Birth's body slumped over in the driver's seat of his black Nissan Maxima parked outside the home. He died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, investigators said.
Police entered the home, searching for 3-year-old Jordan and discovered his lifeless body on the first floor, behind the front door.
Both children suffered single gunshot wounds to the back of their heads. All three were pronounced dead at the scene.
The children's mother Zoey Mendoza-Birth, 37, arrived at the house after the children were shot. Although not injured but traumatized upon learning of the tragic shootings, she was transported to St. Joseph's Hospital in Paterson for a medical evaluation.
"This is a type of event that rocks a community," Chief of Police in Ringwood Bernard Lombardo told reporters as he held back tears. "And it shouldn't happen anywhere."
So many officers were affected by the murder-suicide that grief counselors were called to the Rongwood police station house.
The couple was going through a "very friendly separation," according to Pompton Lakes Det. Lt. Steve Seifried. In fact, Birth and Birth-Mendoza still lived in the same condo and both retained custody of their children.
Neighbors and co-workers described Birth as a happy, doting father who never gave any outward indication he was troubled. Birth was an accounts executive for Cablevision.
Authorities did not confirm if Birth left a suicide note.
The investigation into the incident is ongoing.