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The Miami Herald  (FL)

July 4, 1997

Author: CONNIE PILOTO, Herald Staff Writer

The phone message from Robert Sarnow to his best friend, Henry Zibman, was chilling and to the point. “This is Bob. I killed Ollie at the house. I’m at Hillcrest. I killed mom,” Sarnow said.   “See you later. No, I won’t see you later. That’s about it. Goodbye.”  Minutes later, Robert Sarnow, a retired police crime scene technician, was himself dying, the victim of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. Already dead: his wife of 31 years, Olympia “Ollie” Sarnow, and his 85-year-old mother, Mae Sarnow.

Almost two weeks after the June 21 murder-suicide in Hollywood, no one knows why he did what he did. “He was a happy-go-lucky guy,” said Delrish Moss, a city of Miami detective who worked with Sarnow.  “He was quiet, but always upbeat.” But recently, Sarnow had “talked about having some kind of depression,” Zibman told police.  He had seen a doctor and was taking medication. He confided that he had  “thought about committing suicide,” according to a Hollywood police report.

His last telephone calls offered few clues to his state of mind. After hanging up on Zibman’s answering machine, Sarnow dialed 911 and told police he had killed his wife and then driven to his mother’s house nearby, and slain her. And that he was going to kill himself next. He told the dispatcher to write down this address: 3921 Cleveland St.   “I’m going to hang up now,” Sarnow said. Police rushed to the Cleveland Street address. Inside the house with the neatly mowed lawn, police found the body of Olympia Sarnow, 58, an assistant to Broward County Judge Susan Zeller for the past 13 years. She was in bed, with a bullet wound in her right temple, covered up to her neck with a sheet. Her head rested on two pillows while the ceiling fan above the bed whirred.
Police also rushed to the Washington Street apartment from which Sarnow made his call. They found another scene of carnage. Sarnow, 60, retired from the Miami Police Department, was sitting on the family couch wearing a baseball cap, striped shirt and jeans. He was still clutching the gun. His mother, shot through the head, was found in her bedroom wearing white slippers and a white nightshirt. When officers took Robert Sarnow’s right hand to check for a pulse, he gasped for air. Sarnow was rushed to Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood, where he died hours later. He left behind two grown children, a doctor from Shalimar, Fla., and a South Florida advertising professional. He didn’t leave a note.   “He was a nice guy who had a bad bout of depression and did something horrible,” Zibman said.