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Search for man wanted in beating death of daughter and attack on wife ends with his death by suicide

Voorhees police found the body of Gregory Kelemen, 57, at approximately 11:30 a.m. Tuesday in a wooded area about a mile from his home.

A police vehicle parked in the driveway of the home of Gregory Kelemen in Voorhees, N.J., on Tuesday.
A police vehicle parked in the driveway of the home of Gregory Kelemen in Voorhees, N.J., on Tuesday.Read moreTYGER WILLIAMS / Staff Photographer

A South Jersey man who police say beat his 22-year-old daughter to death with a baseball bat in the family’s home in Voorhees on Monday and also beat and critically wounded his wife was found dead Tuesday of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, law enforcement officials said.

Voorhees police found the body of Gregory Kelemen, 57, about 11:30 a.m. in a wooded area near the 300 block of Preston Avenue, about a mile from his home.

Kelemen had been sought by U.S. Marshals and local police on murder charges in connection with the death of his daughter, Katherine, and on attempted murder charges in the beating of his wife, Sheri.

Police responding to a 911 call placed from the Kelemen home in the 100 block of Round Hill Road on Monday morning found the two women suffering from injuries associated with blunt force trauma.

Katherine Kelemen was taken to an area hospital, where she died a short time later. Known as Katie, she was a junior in the Temple University’s College of Liberal Arts.

Sheri Kelemen, a researcher at Temple’s School of Medicine, is hospitalized in critical but stable condition, police said.

Gregory Kelemen worked as an analyst at Cooper University Health Care, according to his LinkedIn profile. Cooper spokesperson Wendy A. Marano confirmed that he was an employee.

After the crime, police said, Kelemen fled the scene by car. A search by federal and local law enforcement officials was underway when his body was found in the woods on Tuesday morning. Acting Camden County Prosecutor Jill S. Mayer and Voorhees Township Police Chief Louis Bordi said he appeared to have shot himself.

The violence chilled the woodsy block where the family has lived for nearly two decades.

“It’s usually very quiet in here,” said Kara Morley, who stopped in front of the Kelemen family house on Tuesday as she walked to the park with her 2-year-old daughter, Emmy. “... Obviously, I’ve never seen anything like this at all.”

Morley, who had never met Kelemen, said she had only heard good things about him. “I’ve seen him once on the way to the park with my daughter. I gave a little wave, he waved back,” she said. “The other people that I know in the neighborhood who know him said he was a nice man. Very quiet, very normal. So, they’re all in shock.”

Nick Bennett, who lives across the street from the Kelemens, said the crimes Kelemen is accused of committing are out of character for the man he came to know over the years as they griped about cutting grass and shoveling snow.

“He was just out here Saturday doing his leaves because they’re supposed to pick them up this week. We said, ‘Here we go again.’ Next thing you know, Monday, it’s a horror movie,” Bennett said as he stood in front of his house.

He said he knew of no friction in the family, and described Katie Kelemen as “young, bright.”

Her silver Toyota RAV4 was parked on the side of the family’s house.

“She had a bright future ahead of her. It’s sickening that it was taken away from her,” said Bennett.

Speaking while the search for Kelemen was still underway, he added, “I hope they find him so that he does not hurt anyone else, and I don’t want him to hurt himself. Catch him quick.”

Tony Mascino, 19, who lives next door to the Kelemen family, said he and Katie Kelemen grew up walking to school together and graduated from Eastern Regional High School, in Voorhees, a few years apart. “She was a very nice girl,” he said. “She always wanted to help others.”

He declined to speak of her father. “I don’t know what happens behind closed doors. You only see them how you see them,” he said. “She will be missed. We’re all praying and we’re sorry this happened to her.”

Temple issued a statement Tuesday night calling the attack “a senseless tragedy that affects our entire Temple community.”

Inquirer news researcher Ryan Briggs contributed to this article.