THE owner of a Southwick playgroup was shot dead by her husband before he turned the gun on himself at their home in New Jersey.
Alita Knott, 47, who owned Quayside Tots, and her husband, Julian Knott, 45, were found dead inside their property in the Lake Hopatcong section of Jefferson Township at around 1am last Sunday.
Jefferson Township Police Captain Eric Wilsusen said they were treating the deaths as murder/suicide. Mr Knott shot his wife multiple times, then took his own life with the same weapon.
People in Southwick have reacted with shock at the news and many have described them as a ‘lovely family’.
A statement was issued by the playgroup, which meets at Quayside Youth Centre, in Upper Kingston Lane, under the title ‘Sad news’ on its website last Monday at 11am.
It read: “Unfortunately, we have received the news today that the owner of Quayside Tots Playgroup, Alita, and her husband have passed away.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with their family and friends.”
The playgroup was closed last Monday and Tuesday and, at first, it planned to reopen on Wednesday and finish for the summer as planned at lunchtime on July 18.
But the statement was updated late on Tuesday to read: “For legal reasons the playgroup will now not reopen until further notice.”
Writing on the Shoreham Herald Facebook page, Sarah Mccabe said: “She was my children’s childminder for a few years before she moved to America. We are all devastated with the news. She had so much time for my children.”
Jaye Kopite Caulfield said: “Such a lovely lady, so welcoming and friendly. You will be missed Alita.”
Amber Pepperstone said it was terrible news.
“Anita and her husband were lovely people, will be sadly missed but always remembered, thoughts go out to there children and families.”
Lisa Strevens said: “Still can’t believe she has died. She was one of life’s lovely people who would do anything for anyone, and always with a smile. Such a terrible tragedy.”
Elsewhere on Facebook, people who knew the couple in Southwick spoke of them as a ‘lovely family’ and said Alita would be missed.
Alita, who was born in the Philippines, was a teacher for years but was working as a sales associate at a real estate firm at the time of her death.
She met her husband, a high-level executive at global financial services firm JP Morgan Chase, while working in London and the couple had three children.
She started Quayside Tots as a pre-school nursery business and was still the owner when she died.
Mrs Knott was among hundreds of Northbrook College students to graduate in October, 2010. She achieved an NVQ4 in children’s care learning and development.
It is believed the couple moved to the home in America in May.