Apparent suicide attempt leads to all four deaths
The Bucks County District Attorney’s office is calling the deaths of a husband, wife and their two daughters “tragic” as authorities determined three family members died, one by one, trying to save the husband and father from an apparent suicide.
The family was identified as Gary Reitnauer, 59, Michele Reitnauer, 58, Yun Jiao (Kimberly) Cao, 16, a junior at Quakertown Area High School and Jamie Hongfan Reitnauer, 10, a fifth-grader at Trumbauersville Elementary.
State police, Dublin barracks, were called to a home at 1525 Kumry Road in Milford Township around 11:20 p.m. Tuesday after a 911 call was placed by Gary Reitnauer’s elderly mother who lives with the family, authorities said.
According to State Police Lt. Vincent K. D’Angelo of Bethlehem, when troopers arrived at the home at 1525 Kumry Road, they found it “clearly filled” with high levels of carbon monoxide. A vehicle was found running in an attached garage below.
Firefighters from Milford Fire Company donned breathing apparatus to enter the home and, once inside, found the four family members. Police said none of the victims were able to be revived and were pronounced dead at the scene.
One official reported Jamie Reitnauer was found still breathing, but died a short time later.
Authorities said, according to evidence at the scene, it appears Gary Reitnauer attempted to kill himself after an argument with his wife. He reportedly fled to the family’s second home on the property, at 1525, and drove his car inside the garage of the vacant house and then broke the garage door handle to prevent anyone from entering.
Officials said sometime during the course of events, Jamie Reitnauer texted friends on her cell phone, worried about her father, and said she wanted to call 911 but explained her mother didn’t want her to.
Michele Reitnauer then found her husband’s car in the garage of the nearby vacant home and tried to rescue him by breaking a window. Officials from the DA’s office said she succumbed to the highly poisonous gas and was found near the car.
Kimberly later went to check on her parents at the home and fell victim to the gas in the home’s kitchen. Jamie followed suit sometime later, after no one returned, and was also found in the home’s kitchen.
State police and the Bucks County Coroner’s Office continue to investigate the deaths. Autopsies on the family are expected for later this week, authorities said.
Quakertown School District Superintendent Dr. Lisa Andrejko posted a statement acknowledging the girls’ death on the district website Tuesday and the availability of grief counseling resources for district students.
Later Tuesday afternoon, the district posted more information about the girls. According to the website, Kimberly was an aspiring high-level surgeon. In addition to taking accelerated calculus-based physics courses at Bucks County Community College, she played trumpet in the jazz band and orchestra, played piano and sang soprano in the school choir.
She was expected to take a trip to Erie Wednesday with the school’s jazz band to compete at the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association Conference.
“She was beloved. She was one of the most liked kids in the band, a super-friendly, hard worker and friend to everyone. She had such a bright future,” said band director Frank Parker through the website.
Jamie was following in her sister’s footsteps, according to school district officials. She was in the reading Olympics team at Trumbauersville Elementary, played in the band and sang in chorus. She wanted to become a veterinarian and was well liked by her peers, they said.
According to the district website, a vigil to remember the family was planned at Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church in Trumbauersville Tuesday night. Students at the high school will also honor Kimberly with an upcoming “Wear Pink Day” as the junior chose to wear pink to school each Wednesday.