A 44-year-old Peterson Elementary School teacher, Diane Romero, was found dead in her backyard pool with stab wounds early Thursday morning, according to the Merced Police Department.
Her husband, a school bus driver, was found alive in the backyard with stab wounds as well. He was taken to a nearby hospital and is in critical condition, said Merced Police Department spokesman Andre Matthews. The name of the the male victim hasn’t been released, he said.
Police said a family member found the bodies and then called police at 6:10 a.m.
There are no suspects at this point, said police, who are still investigating what exactly occurred. There were no signs of a forced entry into the house, said Matthews.
Not long after 9 a.m. an unnamed male who said he was the brother of the male victim drove up to the scene and broke down in tears while standing on a lawn. He wouldn’t comment beyond saying, “I can’t talk right now.”
After the male family member left, a covered body was taken from the home on a gurney and put in the back of a Merced County Coroner’s van.
The shocked residents of the cul-de-sac stood in groups chatting or quietly tried to go about their business in the late morning, as police and then TV trucks filled their usually quiet corner with noise.
Leslie Nebeker, a neighbor who knew the couple, cautiously came out of her front door late in the morning and told the Sun-Star she and her husband were out for a walk when police came to the house of the victims.
“We’re just all in shock,” she said. “They were a great family.”
Cindy Olstad, another neighbor who was visibly shaken by the news, said that her husband and the male victim were friends.
“It’s not supposed to happen in my neighborhood,” she said.
Paula Egger, another neighbor, stood on her drive with her husband around 11 a.m. watching the police investigators and TV crews go about their business. She said that she was awakened early in the morning when her dogs started barking at the emergency vehicles outside of their house.
She said the victim’s two high school-aged sons were taken from the house after the police arrived.
It was only a day ago when Egger last saw the male victim. She said she saw his wife only the day before. She’d been gardening. “You wonder if someone broke in,” she said.
The news also shocked the staff at Peterson Elementary School where Romero had worked for the past 13 years, most recently as a third-grade teacher.
Greg Spicer, associate superintendent of Merced City School District, said the news of the death of a teacher at Peterson came as blow.
Spicer said it was devastating news and a few teachers went home.
“It was a pretty somber climate,” he said. “Some took it extremely hard.”
The school’s staff was brought together to break the news Thursday morning, said Spicer. Informing Romero’s students will be a different story, he said.
“We didn’t want to share information with students today because we are dealing with young elementary kids. We are sending a note home with parents to explain to parents how to deal with this,” he said.
The note said that one of the school’s teachers had “passed away.” It also said that psychological counseling will be available for the students.
Reporter Jamie Oppenheim contributed to this report. Reporter Jonah Owen Lamb can be reached at (209) 385-2484 or firstname.lastname@example.org.