William Maxwell Loved His Family Then He Killed Them, Say N.C. Police

Photo Clockwise From Top: Bill Maxwell, son Cameron, wife Kathyrn, daughter Conner.

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (CBS/AP) People who knew William Maxwell say that the 47-year-old real estate developer and active church member loved his family more than anything.

But police say that didn't stop him from shooting to death his wife and two children then himself Monday night in a gruesome murder-suicide that has shaken an upscale Fayetteville, N.C. community, one hour south of Raleigh.

Authorities did not hint at a motive.

Police said Tuesday that Maxwell killed wife his wife, Kathryn, and their children, 17-year-old Connor and 15-year-old Cameron, before turning a gun on himself.

"Billy, if you knew him, loved his family. Everybody knew that. That's what makes this so tragic," said John Cook, pastor of Snyder Memorial Baptist Church, where every member of the family was active. "Obviously something tragic was going on for this to happen."

Friends and neighbors say the Maxwells were a friendly family who kept a meticulous yard and were active in their church and their children's religious high school.

"They were just wonderful people, active in their church," said neighbor Kay Edwards, who has lived next door since 1994, when she moved back into the home where she grew up and where her 94-year-old mother still lives. "They were just good neighbors."

Edwards said she would often see family members walking their small dog through the quiet, leafy neighborhood.

"We're just all in shock," she said Tuesday. "You could not image this happening."

William Maxwell was a builder and land developer who built residential subdivisions in Cumberland and Harnett counties, said John McKinney of Fayetteville, who described himself as Maxwell's business partner and friend for more than a decade.

"He was a devout Christian and I really loved his family," McKinney said.

William Maxwell followed his father into the residential real estate business and also owned a couple of local car washes, while his wife Kathryn was a stay-at-home mother who taught Sunday school at Snyder Memorial, McKinney and Cook said.

Years ago, Kathryn, 43, taught in Fayetteville's public schools, said neighbor and state Sen. Tony Rand, whose wife worked with her.

Connor Maxwell performed in a dance troupe and sang in the big Christmas celebration at the family's church, which has about 1,800 members, Cook said.

She was a senior while brother Cameron attended 9th grade at Village Christian Academy in Fayetteville. The school is affiliated with Village Baptist Church. "We're obviously very saddened by this tragic event and we're really concentrating right now on just meeting the needs of the students and staff at the school," said Lou Nelon, the church administrator. "Those kids were very well loved and respected. They were very well known here in town," Nelon said.

In a neighborhood with well-manicured lawns where many houses sit on hill tops, a steady stream of cars drove by the house on Tuesday, slowing for drivers to gape at the crime scene.

Evelyn Diaz, a Maxwell neighbor for about a year, said she remembered the father and son working on the meticulously-kept lawn. One woman who said her husband coached basketball at Village Christian Academy with Maxwell came Tuesday to lay a bunch of yellow daisies on the lawn.

Suzie Martell, a neighbor and a student at Fayetteville Technical Community College, came by the house to snap some pictures with her cell phone. "The family was great. The husband obviously prospered in his field," said Martell.

Fayetteville is about 50 miles southwest of Raleigh and home to the Army's sprawling Fort Bragg.