DREXEL HILL – Two children taken from a Philadelphia-area home after a woman was slain were found safe in New York City early Thursday, and the children’s father, a suspect in the killing, was later found dead, authorities said.
Keith Belajonas, 32, apparently shot himself in an SUV on a dead-end street in Staten Island a short time after the children were left at a drugstore where his brother worked, police said.
Police were called about 2:30 a.m. Thursday to a home in Drexel Hill, just outside Philadelphia, where they found a blood trail on the front step. Inside the residence, they found the body of 28-year-old Christina Belajonas, who lived there with her sons, according to Superintendent Michael Chitwood of Upper Darby police.
It appeared she had been shot in the head and stabbed multiple times, Chitwood said.
A neighbor reported seeing Keith Belajonas leaving the house with the boys, 5-year-old Robert and 4-year-old Christopher. Chitwood said the neighbor heard one of the boys say, “Is Mommy dead?”
An Amber Alert was issued. About 6 a.m., the children were left at a CVS on Staten Island – about 100 miles away. They appeared to be unharmed but were taken to a hospital to be checked, New York City police Lt. Thomas Antonetti said.
Police said an employee told them that Belajonas, who had a gun but didn’t display it in a threatening manner, entered the store and left the kids there, taking with him cigarettes and a can of beer. Chitwood said the employee was Belajonas’ brother.
A short time later, the SUV was spotted nearby and Belajonas’ body was found.
Chitwood said authorities were hoping to reunite the boys with a relative of the slain woman.
“Apparently, the older of the two is telling everybody about ‘Daddy killed Mommy’ type thing. So obviously that’s very traumatic for them,” Chitwood said.
Chitwood said the couple had married in 2011 and had lived in the house for two years. The husband had no criminal record in Pennsylvania and local police had never been called to the house for any kind of domestic incident, he said.
But he described the apartment as a “pigpen,” with garbage and clothes strewn everywhere.
“I don’t know how anybody lived in that place,” Chitwood said.
Joe Ryan, who has lived across the street for about 40 years, said the Belajonases had generally been a quiet family who didn’t socialize with anyone on the block.
But in recent days, Ryan said loud arguments had come from their apartment, which has a balcony facing his house. He heard another commotion early this morning that “sounded serious,” but then went to bed after hearing laughter.
“They didn’t ever do anything appearing to be violent or anything like that,” Ryan said. “He seemed very mild-mannered, and so did she.”
Chitwood said authorities were investigating whether Keith Belajonas was responsible for a social media posting about a dispute with the victim. He said the Facebook posting contained words to the effect of: “We had an argument. She was cheating on me. I won.”
CVS said in a statement that officials were thankful that no one in the store was harmed and employees had been offered counseling.
“Our thoughts are with the children and family of the victim of this tragic incident,” the statement said.