Man killed wife, self because she sought divorce — (Miami Herald)

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The Miami Herald,  (FL)

Thursday, November 21, 1991

Author: ANNE BARTLETT Herald Staff Writer

Five-year-old Amanda Croker got up early Wednesday morning and went looking for her parents. She found them lying on a bed, shot in the head – her mother dead and her father dying.

Despondent over the impending break-up of his marriage, Richard Croker killed his wife Carol with a handgun, then turned the weapon on himself, investigators said. He died later at Broward General Medical Center.

Friends and colleagues said the Crokers were hard-working people who were devoted to their children: Amanda and their 11- month-old twins, Jessica and Jason.

Married 10 years, the couple lived on Southwest 19th Street southwest of Fort Lauderdale, next door to Carol Croker’s parents.

Richard Croker, 38, worked for Broward County as an equipment operator on a road crew. He moonlighted as a security guard at Dania Jai-Alai and the Fort Lauderdale Swap Shop. Carol, 33, had worked for 10 years as a secretary at the Keith and Schnars engineering firm in Fort Lauderdale.

Carol Croker recently told her husband she planned to file for a divorce, Broward Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Tony Fantigrassi said. “Apparently he was suffering bouts of depression as a result of that,” Fantigrassi said. “He had seen a doctor, who prescribed medication for depression .”

He also confided his troubles to friends at the county Streets and Highways Division, where he had worked since 1988. “He was not eating well, and was upset about possibly losing the children,” said Les Chance, the division’s assistant director.

About 6:30 a.m. Wednesday, Richard Croker apparently walked from a back bedroom in his home to a front bedroom, where he shot his wife and then himself, investigators said.

After Amanda found her parents, she ran next door to her grandparents’ house, and told her grandfather, Frank Steffan, “Something is wrong with Mommy and Daddy,” police said.

The grandparents are caring for the children while the state Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services decides their future.

Carol Croker’s friends have set up a trust account for the children. Checks can be made payable to “SunBank as depository for Croker Trust,” and sent to SunBank Trust Department, P.O. Box 14728, Fort Lauderdale, Fla. 33302.

Carol Croker’s brother, Frank Steffan Jr., said the family was too upset to give interviews.

Carol Croker’s boss, Bill Keith, said she was an exemplary employee who never discussed personal problems at work.

“She was just a person everyone could depend on — always bright, always cheerful,” Keith said. “If you designed an employee, you couldn’t design a better employee.”

Chance said Richard Croker also was well-liked by friends at work.

“He was just a very calm, nice person, very mannerly and well-spoken. He’d do anything in the world you’d ask him to do,” Chance said. “He never had an angry word for anybody.”
Caption: photo: Richard Croker (b), Carol Croker (b): color photo: Five-year-old Amanda Croker is comforted by Frank Steffan Jr.

Record Number: 9103170568
Copyright (c) 1991 The Miami Herald