Rotterdam police have shed little light on a pair of “suspicious” deaths that upended the sleepy Coldbrook neighborhood Wednesday.
Police said they were called about 10:15 a.m. to 1142 Inner Drive and discovered the bodies that are believed to be those of Tammy McCormack and one of her two daughters. The Carman Fire Department also received a fire call to that address at that time, but firefighters were on the scene for only a half-hour.
UPDATE: On Thursday, Rotterdam police said they had arrested Brice Rivenburgh, former boyfriend of Jessica McCormack, and charged him with first-degree burglary in connection with a break-in at the home on Wednesday morning. More details to come.
Police Wednesday night were offering no additional information as they investigated, but told Schenectady schools Superintendent Laurence Spring they were “reasonably certain” the victims were McCormack and a daughter, according to an internal email Spring sent to staff Wednesday.
McCormack was a human resources assistant for the Schenectady City School District. The district has assembled a crisis team for all staff out of its central office.
“We don’t have official confirmation but we have every reason to believe a central office employee died last night and was discovered this morning,” said Spring at a school board meeting later that night.
Spring identified the employee as McCormack and said her death was a “shocking and abrupt loss of life of someone who is so energetic, such a joy to work with.”
The circumstances surrounded the deaths remain a mystery. Rotterdam police refused to comment at the scene, as did Schenectady County District Attorney Robert Carney. Police referred all comment to Lt. Mike Brown, who did not return a voicemail Wednesday evening.
Crime scene investigators in white protective outfits spent a while in the backyard of the house, where a fence was broken at the top. Investigators dusted down the spot for fingerprints.
The Inner Drive home is owned by Tammy and Keith McCormack, according to a deed filed with Schenectady County. Keith McCormack died of a heart attack June 5, 2009. The family has three children: Brad, Jessica and Marie.
Marie McCormack lives in Phoenix and attends Arizona State University, according to her Facebook page. She is to graduate with a master’s degree in May, according to the page.
Jessica McCormack graduated from Mohonasen Central School in 2009, and then went to Schenectady County Community College, where she was on the dean’s list in the spring and fall of 2010. She also attended the University at Albany for one semester in the fall of 2011, according to college records.
Brad McCormack rushed to the scene Wednesday. His business, Lyle’s Hoagies, was closed for the day. After Keith McCormack’s death, Brad took over Lyle’s Hoagies. Keith had been a partner in the business.
As police took photographs and video at the scene, which was surrounded by police tape and marked with evidence markers, neighbors stood in their driveways and on their front lawns. Some gathered on the quiet street.
They were hoping for some sort of conclusion to the commotion, as police lingered into the evening. Some speculated about what happened, but most, including small children, just stood silently.
Barbara Vogel, who has lived around the corner from the McCormack house since 2001, said she was working at home when the news reached her.
“My neighbor came over and asked me if I heard about what happened. … I basically lost it since then,” she said as she stood about 50 feet from the crime scene tape that blocked off the road.
Vogel said she’s second-guessing whether the neighborhood is safe. She moved here for the good reputation, she said, but added: “I just don’t want to be in this neighborhood anymore.”