A bizarre murder-suicide early Saturday spread cyanide fumes through an apartment building and caused scores of residents to be evacuated, homicide investigators said.
A 37-year-old man, who had lived in the Lexington Palms apartment complex in the 500 block of West Lexington Avenue for several years, apparently stabbed his wife to death after an argument, then committed suicide by drinking calcium cyanide, a powerful pesticide, police said.
The dead couple was identified by Deputy Coroner David Lodge as Kenneth Ushkowitz and his wife, Lucille, 28. The woman died of multiple stab wounds to the neck and abdomen, Lodge said. The man died from “self-ingestion of a quantity of cyanide.”
Sounds of a struggle and the odor of the cyanide led neighbors to the couple’s apartment where a young child let them in. The dead woman was found in the bathtub and her husband was sprawled on the floor by the bathroom door, police said.
Police evacuated residents of surrounding apartments and wore protective breathing apparatus until it was determined that the pesticide fumes were not harmful.
Neighbors told police that the 5-year-old girl was one of the couple’s three children. The other two children were not at home when the bodies were found about 3:30 a.m. Saturday.
Neighbors also said that the couple had had frequent violent fights.