Biddle Murder Gun Is Traced

Posted: June 03, 2000

The pistol Mark Hampton Biddle used to kill his ex-wife and himself this week once belonged to her grandfather and was among the booty Biddle claimed during divorce proceedings, Lower Merion police said yesterday.

The five-shot, .38-caliber pistol was last registered to Robert Massey, of Haverford, in 1975, police said. Massey is the grandfather of Melinda Clothier Biddle, 41, who died Wednesday in the Main Line murder-suicide. Massey couldn't be reached for comment yesterday.

The deaths of Mark and Melinda, who hail from two of Philadelphia's oldest and most privileged families, rocked the blueblood set and left them struggling to determine what went wrong.

In a shocking departure from his highbrow upbringing, Mark accosted his ex-wife outside the Haverford home they once shared, pistol-whipped her, fired two bullets into her and then shot himself in the head, orphaning the couple's three adolescent children.

Police are still puzzling over his motive, although they suspect financial troubles and custody disagreements may have sparked the attack.

An hour before her death, Melinda informed her boss at La Salle University, where she taught a psychology class, that she needed to find full-time work to alleviate financial troubles caused by her recent divorce.

A recent flurry of letters between the couple's divorce attorneys also had left Mark tense, his new wife said.

Thursday, Veruschka DeMarici, Mark Biddle's wife of three months, told the Daily News that her husband grew enraged after receiving a letter from Melinda's lawyer on May 26. She said she did not know the letter's contents.

Attorney Ann Ferber, who represented Melinda in the divorce, did not returned repeated telephone calls.

Attorney John Pennypacker Gregg, who represented Mark Biddle, couldn't be reached yesterday.

But investigators say they are haven't uncovered any significant correspondence between the couple's attorneys.

Lower Merion Police Detective Sgt. John Stillwagon said investigators obtained paperwork relating to the divorce, which he described as "cordial."

But DeMarici didn't tell detectives during an extensive interview about any letter her husband received, said Stillwagon, who added that police plan to interview her again.

"Some sort of event set things in motion," he said. "But we don't know. It could be one of the dark-kept secrets he kept inside."

The Biddles had separated but lived together for 1 1/2 years after their split.

Some friends described their relationship as so chilly they rarely spoke to each other, while others described them as a friendly, happy couple.

Send e-mail to difilid@phillynews.com

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