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Cops search for answers behind Addison family tragedy
By Marco Santana and Christy Gutowski | Daily Herald Staff

Tom Mangiantini

 

Police on the scene of a murder/suicide in the 200 block of Wisconsin in Addison.

 

Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

Addison Police Department Chief Timothy Hayden speaking at press conference on Wednesday.

 

George LeClaire | Staff Photographer

Officer Omar Brucal tapes off an area at the scene of a murder/suicide in the 200 block of Wisconsin in Addison.

 

Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

Police on the scene of a murder/suicide in the 200 block of Wisconsin in Addison.

 

Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

Police on the scene of a murder/suicide in the 200 block of Wisconsin in Addison.

 

Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

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Published: 11/25/2009 12:18 PM | Updated: 11/25/2009 10:19 PM

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An Addison man active in his community opened fire Wednesday on his family before killing himself in a murder-suicide captured on the wife's desperate 911 call, authorities said.

A picture-perfect family portrait was shattered when police rushed to the 200 block of South Wisconsin Avenue about 6:30 a.m. after a 911 call with sounds of gunfire in the background.

The Mangiantini family - Tom, 48; Elizabeth, 46; and their two young sons, Angelo and Tommy, about 12 and 8, respectively - were found dead with spent shell casings near their bodies. A forensic pathologist will perform the four autopsies this Thanksgiving morning.

The couple married Aug. 17, 1991, in LaGrange Park and lived in the Addison subdivision since 1993, public records showed. There were no prior domestic disturbances in which police were called to the home that was adorned Wednesday with Christmas decorations.

The couple did not have a divorce or other legal issues pending in court, but friends and neighbors pointed to financial stress as a potential motive since both had lost their jobs in recent months.

"Every time one of these cases happens you try to figure out why the guy would do it," DuPage State's Attorney Joseph Birkett said. "Sometimes there are signs and indicators but, many times, there's no warning signals. Maybe there is to close friends and associates, but to the rest of the world, it goes largely unnoticed and appears to happen out of the blue."

Addison police Chief Timothy Hayden said officers had to force their way into the locked two-story home after arriving within minutes of the 911 call. Elizabeth Mangiantini was found on the first floor. Her husband and their two sons were in an upstairs hallway. The two boys were near each other.

"It was a call for help with urgency," Hayden said of the 911 call.

He added: "At this time of great thanks, when most families are giving thanks, we want to extend our most heartfelt sympathies to the family."

Authorities later obtained search warrants to check the home, computers and the parents' cars, parked in the driveway, for clues. There was no note to explain the crime. Police recovered a handgun in the home.

Neighbors and friends were shocked as news spread, one day before Thanksgiving. The Mangiantinis were well-known in town through school, sports and Boy Scout activities.

"There's no explanation," said Jim Mack, a longtime friend who lives in the couple's subdivision. "It's tragic. I have no idea what happened. The neighborhood lost a good family."

Tom Mangiantini coached baseball for about five years in the nonprofit Addison Recreation Club, said Stephen Nelms, the club's vice president and a local school board member. Nelms' son also attended Indian Trail Junior High School with the couple's oldest boy, Angelo, who was in the sixth grade. Nelms told his son about the tragedy.

"I can't even explain it to my 12-year-old," he said. "There's no explanation for something like this."

He last saw Tom Mangiantini one week ago when the coach dropped off paperwork from last summer's team. Nelms said the crime does not fit the father's reputation.

"He was pretty quick-witted and easygoing," Nelms said. "It's so counter to his personality. He lived for his kids."

Neighbor John Kruse also described a friendly family. Kruse said he often saw the boys playing together outside the home or with their father riding around the neighborhood in his 4-wheeler. They trick-or-treated weeks ago, he said.

The couple's youngest son, Tommy, attended Fullerton Elementary School. Beth Mangiantini was active in the school system, often volunteering at fundraising events. Her family lives nearby. Members declined to comment Wednesday.

"That's why people are in such shock," said Beverly Schatte, co-president of the Indian Trail Junior High School PTA. "They were really well-known. You wouldn't expect this of Tom at all. Nothing seemed to be wrong. They seemed very happy."

Tom Mangiantini, who graduated from Riverside Brookfield High School, just attended his 30th reunion last month with his wife by his side. Friend Kathleen Bauer, who helped organize the reunion, said Mangiantini followed up with a recent e-mail to thank her.

"He was a very good friend," said Bauer, of Plainfield. "He was just a super, super guy. I just can't see him doing something like this. It's so unlike him. He must have just snapped."

Addison District 4 Superintendent John Langton said officials plan to have a crisis management team available to students when they return Monday from Thanksgiving break.