Tragedy in Pitman leaves couple, young son dead

Police tape seals off the scene on Kenton Avenue in Pitman, where police found the three bodies at the Adolf family home.
Police tape seals off the scene on Kenton Avenue in Pitman, where police found the three bodies at the Adolf family home. (DAVID SWANSON / Staff Photographer)
Posted: August 15, 2013

In the backyard of the home in Pitman, there were reminders of childhood innocence behind the yellow police tape: A bicycle with training wheels on the deck. A mud-stained toy bulldozer and dump truck. A wooden swing set with a blue slide.

On Tuesday, Jack Klose, a borough resident, stopped his car near the two-story home with tan siding on Kenton Avenue and stumbled out with the engine running. “They’re all gone?” he asked, shaken.

Earlier in the morning, Pitman police had found three dead bodies in the home.

It appeared that Francis Adolf, 49, had killed his wife, Bonnie, 44, and their 6-year-old son, Francis Jr., and then taken his own life, the Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office said.

Authorities did not reveal how the killings were committed. They also didn’t give a motive except to say Adolf “left writings indicating he intended to harm himself and family members.”

Ramblings posted on what appeared to be Francis Adolf’s Twitter account did not show any explicit threats; some, though, were peculiar.

Neighbors and Francis’ mother said they were perplexed by the murders and suicide, and saddened especially by the death of Frankie, as one neighbor said the boy was called.

“That’s what’s so heartbreaking,” said next-door neighbor Ann Marie Lepone.

Another neighbor, who did not want her name used, said: “I don’t understand how can you kill your child. He had so much ahead of him.”

Klose, 66, learned about the tragedy from his wife. “He was a beautiful boy,” Klose said of the child.

Klose said his 7-year-old grandson was Frankie’s best friend. The two often played Minecraft, a computer game, and swam in the pool together. They had hoped to be in the same second-grade class at Memorial Elementary School, he said.

The two families had a movie date planned for the boys for Wednesday, Klose said, a trip to see Planes.

“I can’t get my head around this,” he said.

More than one call to Pitman police prompted authorities to go to the house to check.

Authorities said there was no reported history of domestic violence. The couple married in 2004, according to Francis Adolf’s Facebook page. No one else was in the home, except the family dog, when police found the couple and their son.

Adolf’s mother, Delores, said her grandson was just a happy child.

She said she could not explain what happened. “Bad things happen to good people,” she said in a brief telephone interview.

The couple were employed at Virtua, the hospital network said in a statement, which did not say what their occupations were.

“We are deeply saddened by this tragic news that has impacted coworkers and the entire Virtua organization,” the statement said.

The Prosecutor’s Office said Francis Adolf was a nurse.

He graduated from Camden County College in 2008 with an associate degree in applied science, the college said.

James Booth, a technician at Virtua Voorhees, said he sometimes worked with Adolf in the emergency room.

“This is not something I would ever think. Oh, my God,” he said. “He was never in a bad mood, friendly, talkative.”

Bonnie Adolf received her associate degree in nursing in 1991, the college said.

Francis Adolf’s Twitter musings ranged from the political to the quirky.

He described himself, in his own spellings, as a “Christian Libertarian but I frequenty find myself tweeting in the flesh, and sometimes in the nude too.”

He referred to attending the Gloucester County Community Church in Sewell. Tuesday evening, a pastor and a parishioner there declined to comment.

On July 30, in his last tweet, he wrote: “Goodbye forever twitter. My marriage is too important. Pray for me, my wife and family. Love you all. Thanks.”

On July 27, he tweeted: “Finally, out of the ER. Driving/texting and the Percocet is kicking in. Weeeeeeeeeee!!!”

In some tweets he knocked President Obama and his health-care plan.

Later in the day, Klose and his family tried to explain to his grandson — whose name he did not want used — that Frankie had died.

Klose, who called a crisis center for guidance Tuesday, said he and others in his family told his grandson that something had happened that should not have happened.

The boy immediately worried about his great-grandmother, Klose said.

No, he told him, it was Frankie who was “with Jesus.”

Contact Darran Simon at 856-779-3829 or at, or follow on Twitter @darransimon.

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