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East Amherst neighbors recall fateful sounds on morning of murder-suicide

When residents on a normally quiet East Amherst street heard popping sounds Saturday morning, they assumed fireworks and thought nothing of it.

The next day, they learned that those sounds were gunshots and that two neighbors were dead in what police say was a murder-suicide.

The small home on Ransom Oaks Drive, shaded by a number of trees on the edge of a cul-de-sac with plants and flowers surrounding the property, belonged to Ellen M. Zingaro, 55, whose body was found along with that of Richard J. Dux, 53, her longtime live-in boyfriend, Sunday afternoon by relatives of Zingaro, police said.

“They were supposed to have a family event that day, and they couldn’t get a hold of her,” Amherst Police Detective Lt. Richard S. Walter said.

Police, after speaking with neighbors, believe that the gunfire occurred at about 11 a.m. Saturday.

Dux fired multiple shots at Zingaro before turning the gun on himself, police said.

Walter, who has held his current position in the department for the last eight years, said that murders are not common in the town but that when they do happen, most are domestic-related.

This is the first murder of 2015 in Amherst, the last one being the death of 3-year-old Mayouna Smith, of Allenhurst Road, on Jan. 17, 2014.

A mother and younger son who live on Ransom Oaks Drive and asked not to be identified said that Zingaro and Dux seemed like very nice people and that they never observed any arguing at any point.

The mother said Zingaro and Dux often watched a young child, and had a friendly dog. The son said he was leaving for a pool party Sunday when he saw quite a few police cars outside of the home.

There was no history of domestic violence calls at the home, Walter said, but relatives and neighbors who knew Zingaro told police that the couple frequently argued.

According to public records, Zingaro bought the home in March 2000.

email: jreiland@buffnews.com and jhabuda@buffnews.com