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Police say couple had suicide pact

Published Oct. 9, 2005

To the strangers they encountered, Stanley and Jacqueline Hyman were enjoying a carefree, monthlong vacation at a rented condominium on Clearwater Beach.

Privately, though, the couple decided sometime in the last week that they would die together.

The Hymans were suspected in a highly publicized murder-for-hire scheme in the Washington, D.C., area. Their bodies were found Wednesday morning in a condominium on the 14th floor of 440 West, Gulfview Boulevard South.

Clearwater police spokesman Wayne Shelor said Thursday the two entered into a suicide pact. They died of head wounds from a 12-gauge shotgun, according to a preliminary autopsy report.

"It appears he shot her and then turned the gun on himself," Shelor said.

Police still don't know when the deaths occurred, although a groundskeeper and some vacationers at the condominium have told police they thought they heard gunshots on Monday.

Turowski said he checked Hyman, 70, and wife, 63, into the complex on July 24 when they approached the security gate in a white Toyota rental car. Turowski said Hyman told him at the time they would be vacationing until Aug. 31.

"He had a neck brace on," Turowski said. "I remember him pretty well."

Turowski said he saw the Hymans on a couple of occasions walking near the pool by themselves. He said they seemed happy and joked with him when he asked them why they weren't holding hands.

"I hadn't seen them for five, six or seven days and then this happened," Turowski said.

Clearwater police would not release the contents of a handwritten note found near the bodies Wednesday. Shelor said it could be as long as two weeks before information about the note is released.

According to newspaper reports, Hyman has been wearing a neck brace since he reported a mysterious incident that occurred June 20 in West Virginia. Hyman claimed a man forced him at knife-point from a resort cabin and then knocked him unconscious. He reportedly did not tell authorities about the incident until he arrived home in McLean, Va., later the same day.

The Hymans, who had visited Clearwater Beach at least once a year for the past three years, have been murder suspects since June 10 _ the day someone killed their former son-in-law, John Kowalczyk, while he sat in his Ford pickup in Vienna, Va.

Kowalczyk and his former wife, Katherine, were involved in a bitter divorce and child custody case a year ago after she learned of Kowalczyk's affair with Lisa Zumwalt.

Lisa Zumwalt is the former wife of Reston, Va., lawyer James Zumwalt, an early suspect in the case.

James Zumwalt is the son of Adm. Elmo R. Zumwalt Jr., a former chief of naval operations. James Zumwalt was cleared by police after he attempted suicide, lamenting that his connection with the case was soiling his family's reputation.

Vienna police Detective John Cheyne said Thursday that the Hymans have been the prime suspects for weeks. Kowalczyk reportedly told several friends he thought Hyman would try to kill him.

Police now believe the Hymans may have hired two men from West Virginia to kill their former son-in-law.

The men, both with extensive police records, worked at the Coolfont resort in Berkeley Springs, another vacation spot popular with the Hymans. One of the men, James Alting, has been missing since June 19. Police suspect foul play.

After John Kowalczyk was killed, police confiscated a rare handgun from a collection Hyman kept at his home in McLean. The gun is a Thompson Contender.

Police say the gun, purchased by Jacqueline Hyman at Accurate Plating & Weaponry in Clearwater, could have been the one used to kill Kowalczyk. Hyman was a weapons enthusiast who had a firing range in the basement of his home.

Shelor, the police spokesman, said the gun found with the bodies on Clearwater Beach was not purchased in Clearwater. He would neither confirm nor deny that it was purchased at another gun shop in the area.

Blair Howard, a Washington lawyer who represents the Hymans' son, said the family has made arrangements with a Tampa mortuary for the bodies to be cremated.

Because Hyman was a retired Air Force colonel, Howard said, the family hopes to have the couple's ashes interred at Arlington National Cemetery.