NBC10 - Harry Hairston
Christopher Liggio shot and killed Dr. Michelle Liggio at her doctor's office in Pennsauken, NJ. NBC10's Harry Hairston reports.
A beloved South Jersey doctor had filed for divorce just days before her husband came to her medical office in Pennsauken, killing her and then himself.
Dr. Michelle Liggio's attorney said she had not indication that Christopher Liggio, 58, would do anything so violent.
"He was completely cordial," Judy Charny said, recalling a phone message she received from Christopher last week, after sending him a letter that his wife would be filing for divorce and hoped to settle things amicably.
"I asked him where he wanted me to send the complaint and he said I could just send it to the home," Charny said.
Charny filed the divorce papers with the court last Thursday, but doesn't think Christopher Liggio ever received a copy. She mailed them out to him on Tuesday, the very day he walked into his wife's office during the lunch hour and confronted her.
Dr. Liggio's workers told police that the couple began arguing and then they heard the doctor plead, "No, no, no," before Christopher Liggio opened fire.
Employees inside the office ran outside at that point and someone called 911. A SWAT team responded to the doctor's office at 7665 Maple Avenue.
"There were a few gunshots and then a police officer came in and they told us to get away from the windows," said James Strong who manages the Tortilla Press Cantina across the street.
Christopher Liggio fired five shots, according to witnesses, killing his 47-year-old wife and then himself.
"It was surreal. We're in here preparing for lunch crowd and then this happened. It's surreal," Strong said.
In the divorce complaint, Michelle Liggio cited Irreconcilable Differences as the reason for the split. She was asking for joint custody of the couple's two teenage boys, child support and alimony. Dr. Liggio was also asking to remain in the home while her husband found another place to live.
At least two studies show that in murder-suicides involving couples, 9 out of 10 times the man is the perpetrator, according to the Violence Policy Center's most recent research on murder-suicide in the United States.
"The most prevalent type of murder-suicide was between two intimate partners, with the man killling his wife or girlfriend," according to study.
Dr. Liggio ran a private, family practice. As investigators went over the crime scene this afternoon, some patients gathered outside, waiting for information.
"She listened, she cared, and she took the time to go over things with you," said Frank Wolf. "I convinced my wife to come to her and she loves her also. We're both upset about this."
The Liggios, who lived in Mt. Laurel, New Jersey, leave behind two children.
"I really didn't know her that well, because I just recently took her on as a client, but she seemed like a lovely person," Charny said.