``I don't believe in my heart that he could do that,'' Zanin said. ``I know how he felt about Stefanie. I know how he felt about his daughter. It's just unbelievable to me.''
``Inconceivable,'' said Larry Genkin, 31, a former camp buddy who now lives in Maryland. ``Until I can hear it out of his mouth that `I did this and here's why,' I can't buy it.
``Anybody who knows him knows he was the friendliest, most fun-loving, and nicest person there was. I would even describe him as gentle. This is a good person. That's why this doesn't add up.''
Rabinowitz, 33, was arrested Monday, five days after he'd called 911 to report finding his wife's body in the bathtub. He maintains his innocence.
Yesterday, as Rabinowitz spent his first full day in the Montgomery County Correctional Facility, family members - his mother, a sister who arrived from Florida, and his in-laws - were at the couple's home on the 500 block of Winding Way in Merion, taking turns watching the couple's daughter, Haley, who turned 1 on Friday.
They declined to comment.
As word of his arrest spread late yesterday to his friends around the country and overseas - many of whom met Rabinowitz during his long association with summer camp - discussion of the double tragedy began through phone calls and e-mail. They reiterated the theme that has emerged over the last week: that if there is such a thing as a perfect couple, this was it.
Craig Rabinowitz, a 1981 graduate of Lower Merion High School, and Stefanie Newman, still at Cheltenham High School, met in the mid-1980s when he was a 20-year-old counselor at Camp Comet Trails and she a 16-year-old counselor-in-training at Camp Wohelo, the sister camp.
``People were always jibing him about it, because then the age difference was big,'' said Genkin. ``Here was a guy who was 21 going to a senior prom. But he took all [that] his friends would give him because he was in such love with her. I would look at him and say, `This is what true love is about.' ''
The camp, 16 miles southwest of Gettysburg, had been a major part of Craig's life. He started there at the age of 6 and returned every summer for the next 17 years, the final few as a counselor. As a camper he won leadership and sportsmanship awards, and was always one of two campers picked as captains for the season-ending color war competition.
Nobody called him Craig. He was ``Rabs'' or ``Rabbi.'' Even today, his friends don't use his real name in conversation.
In 1986, when the camp was put up for sale, Rabinowitz' father, Henry, tried to put together a deal to buy it for his son. Craig's partner would have been Zanin, who was a camp director.
``His father was trying to get him set up,'' said Zanin, 54. ``He thought he could put some loans together. But the pricing wasn't right.''
After high school, Rabinowitz took courses at Temple University and did some work for his father in the latex business, said Zanin. Henry Rabinowitz, who lived in Lower Merion, commuted to a New York City firm he owned that manufactured BVD underwear but gave it up after a heart attack, said Bob Corbett, a former counselor of Craig's.
``I'll never forget on Parents' Day when Mr. Rabinowitz came to visit,'' said Corbett. ``The parents usually give the counselors a tip, and he asked me to come out to the car. He had a trunkload of BVDs. I tell you, I didn't buy socks for three years.''
But when Henry Rabinowitz died a number of years ago, some friends say, he left little money behind. That's why, they believe, Craig took insurance policies for both himself and Stefanie last month worth more than a million dollars each. They say he wanted to ensure that his daughter would have an inheritance if anything happened to him or his wife.
The couple were married shortly after Stefanie graduated from Bryn Mawr College in 1989. Kim Norkett, 41, an Englishman who met Craig at camp, was the best man. The two have kept a close friendship over the years.
``I talked to him on Saturday,'' said Norkett from England yesterday. ``He was very upset and couldn't speak. We agreed to speak later on in the week.''
That plan was interrupted by Rabinowitz's arrest. When Norkett was told of it, he said, ``it sent a tremor through me.''
``He was a genuine, wonderful, caring person,'' said Norkett, who three weeks ago received a letter and family portrait in the mail from the Rabinowitzes. ``Somebody who didn't have an ounce of malice. Meek, mild and genuinely lovable. . . . I'll be on the next flight over if he wants me.''
The couple lived in an apartment in Narberth and then with Stefanie's parents in Elkins Park for about a year while they saved for their home, which they purchased in June 1995.
Craig Rabinowitz continued his sports interests, playing street hockey and first base for a softball team in a league sponsored by the Jewish Community Center.
Stefanie, 29, a lawyer, was working part time recently for Fineman & Bach, a Center City firm. Her husband was always self-employed, running at one time a vending machine business out of the apartment, and later a distributorship for latex products. A cousin, Craig Yusem, was a partner for about a year - he's the other ``C'' in the name of the business, C & C Supplies Inc. - but that relationship ended a number of years ago.
Craig Rabinowitz's lawyers say they have not yet had a chance to question their client about his business or his finances, but believe he sold his product to hospitals, veterinarians and, possibly, pharmacies. They plan soon to interview his accountant.
Law enforcement officials, too, want to know more about Craig Rabinowitz's life. Montgomery County detectives were asking about him yesterday at Delilah's Den, a Philadelphia nightspot that features topless dancers, club manager Tucker Mooney said. He said some of ``my day-shift girls'' told detectives that Rabinowitz had been a visitor there.
According to computerized county records, the Rabinowitz couple borrowed $300,500 over the last two years - including a $96,500 loan on March 17 - using the house on Winding Way as collateral.
``I know that he was not behind on his mortgage,'' said Jeffrey Miller, one of his attorneys. ``I'm told by family members he paid all the way up to May 1.''
The Rabinowitzes ate often at trendy Aldar Bistro in Merion, once in a while bringing their daughter, and always seemed friendly and happy, said owner George Wakim. And they sometimes went to his other, fancier restaurant: Evviva's on Montgomery Avenue.
That's where Craig planned to bring Stefanie later this month for a surprise 30th birthday party. He began organizing it three months ago, planning the menu and inviting 30 to 40 of her friends.
``He was excited,'' said Wakim. ``He really wanted to do nice things for her - nothing was on the cheap.'' The party, Wakim said, would have cost $3,000.
Stefanie worked April 29. That night, her parents treated the couple and their grandchild to dinner at Thai Pepper on Lancaster Avenue in Ardmore. Craig and Stefanie sat on one side of the table, Stefanie's parents on the other. Haley was in a high chair between Craig and Stefanie's mother, Anne.
``He was taking care of the baby, feeding her most of the time,'' said waiter Rico Katindig.
The party left about 7:15 p.m. and returned to the Rabinowitz home for coffee. After the parents left about 8:30, Craig took Haley for a walk and Stefanie stood outside talking to neighbors.
It was a tranquil and pleasant evening.
Four hours later, Craig Rabinowitz was calling 911.