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Wife dies, man kills self: Cops

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By Dustin Brown

A Long Island City man killed himself Sunday on the same day as his wife of more than 40 years died of natural causes, police said.

Carmine Cretella, 63, and his wife Carmela Cretella, 62, were found dead Sunday afternoon in their 9th Street home by an adult daughter who lived in the downstairs apartment, police and neighbors said.

Carmine Cretella died of a self-inflicted stab wound, and Carmela Cretella died of natural causes, police said.

Police did not indicate which of them died first.

Neighbors began congregating in small groups in the bitter cold Sunday afternoon after they heard sirens roar down the street, responding in shock once they learned about the deaths. Some said they had seen the couple out shopping as recently as that morning.

“I can’t even fathom this. This year has been a terrible, terrible year,” said Veronica Cardell, who lives down the street from the couple’s red-brick three-story home. “They’ve been pillars of this community.”

Carmine Cretella was a driver for the Thomas M. Quinn and Sons Funeral Home, and his wife, who was known as “Chicky” by friends and neighbors, assisted teachers as a paraprofessional at PS 76.

Neighbors said both had lived in Long Island City their entire lives and were longtime residents of the home on 9th Street near 34th Avenue, which was originally owned by Carmine Cretella’s father, who died earlier in the year.

They had three grown daughters — the youngest of whom lived in the apartment below them — as well as a number of grandchildren.

Close friends described the couple as “best friends” who did everything together.

“They were inseparable. You never saw one without the other,” said Madge DiPippo, the secretary at St. Rita’s Roman Catholic Church, where the Cretellas were active parishioners.

Whenever the couple went out in a group, “if they weren’t sitting side-by-side, they had to be opposite one another,” DiPippo said.

“They were very, very loving and caring to each other,” said Vivian Verdigi, a neighbor Carmela visited every evening for coffee before going home for the night. “He loved her to no end.”

Neighbors and friends were struggling to come to terms with the death of the Cretellas, who had recently celebrated their 40th anniversary.

“Everyone’s emotionally upset and in shock,” DiPippo said. “It’s devastating.”

The viewing was scheduled for Thursday from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Thomas M. Quinn and Sons Funeral Home, 35-20 Broadway in Long Island City.

A funeral mass was to be held for the couple at St. Rita’s Church, 36-25 11th St. at 10:30 a.m. Friday.

Reach reporter Dustin Brown by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 154.

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