Schoolteacher, husband found shot to death in Town of Newburgh home
Police hint that shootings were murder-suicide
Photo 1 of 2 | Zoom Photo +
Investigators confer outside the home. Neighbors described Kimet and Hiria Kojtari as “lovely people” whom no one ever heard fighting.Times Herald-Record/DOMINICK FIORILLE
TOWN OF NEWBURGH — A local schoolteacher and her husband were found shot to death in their Town of Newburgh home Saturday morning, police said.
Investigators hadn't ruled out the possibility of a third-party gunman, but they hinted that it was likely a murder-suicide case between the couple.
"Detectives are still piecing together the facts to determine what happened," Newburgh police Lt. Michael Clancy said. "We believe the violence is isolated to the house, and we don't believe there's anyone running around that people should be concerned with."
Kimet Kojtari, the 60-year-old husband, owned a pizzeria in Rockland County. His wife, Hiria, 51, taught French and Italian at Monroe-Woodbury High School.
Their bodies were discovered at 3:33 a.m. Saturday in an upstairs bedroom by one of their four children, who was returning home on a college break. The Kojtaris' son immediately called 911. Police believe they were killed a few hours before their bodies were found.
Clancy said that items strewn about the bedroom indicated there was a struggle before several shots were fired from a small-caliber weapon, likely a handgun.
"It was a violent episode," Clancy said, adding that police recovered "several weapons" from the house.
The Kojtaris lived at 1 Marino Drive, a quiet cul-de-sac road about 1 mile away from Leptondale Elementary School. They moved into the hilltop neighborhood of palatial homes in November 2001.
Neighbors were frozen with shock Saturday morning as police in jumpsuits combed the Kojtaris' home. Rich and Diane Paolo watched from their driveway across the street.
They said the Kojtaris were a family-oriented couple with much to celebrate. They recently had a grandchild, and two of their kids were working on doctoral degrees.
"They were lovely people," Diane Paolo said. "Whenever we went to their house, they were always so hospitable."
Hiria attended Monroe-Woodbury's high school musical "Seussical" Friday night. Kimet spent the evening gathering fallen branches for firewood.
Neighbors said they didn't hear the gunshots and never saw or heard the couple fight.
Raymond Hodges, president of the Monroe-Woodbury Teachers Association, said Hiria had been a beloved member of the faculty since she started teaching there seven years ago.
"We're completely shocked about this," he said. "She was a devoted, conscientious teacher who always smiled and loved to talk about her family."
The killing is the Town of Newburgh's fourth homicide case in nine months, including the September murder-suicide of an elderly couple in the Stony Brook Condominiums.