Police in two states are investigating whether the murder of a 35-year-old woman in North Carolina is connected to the murder-suicide Thursday of two physicians in New Jersey.
Police in Vorhees, N.J., are probing the shooting death Thursday of Dr. Payman Houshmandpour by a former colleague, Dr. Giocondo "Joe" Navek. According to police, Navek drove to Houshmandpour's house, shot him, and then turned the gun on himself minutes later.
As they began to investigate the murder-suicide, police found a woman's personal items in Navek's car, according to Camden County, N.J., prosecutor's office spokesman Jason Laughlin. Police tracked the items to a woman in North Carolina, whom they tried to contact as part of the investigation. The woman, however, had just been discovered dead.
"We were trying to figure out what led to the shooting (in New Jersey), and we were shocked to find out there was another victim," said Laughlin. "We just wanted to talk to her, and then found out she had been killed. It was an eye-opener for us."
Police in Fayetteville, N.C., found Shawna Givens dead in her home Wednesday afternoon after co-workers reported that she did not show up for work. Police believe that the mother of three was killed and left there days earlier.
According to Laughlin, Givens, 25, had been involved in a romantic relationship with Navek, 39, since January. Around that time, Navek had begun working at the Womack Army Medical Center at Fort Bragg in Fayetteville, where Givens also worked.
Navek split his time between North Carolina and New Jersey, where he lived until recently with his fiance and their daughter. Navek previously worked at the same hospital in New Jersey where Houshmandpour was employed, but lost his job there over a year ago. Navek then got a job at Womack in North Carolina, Laughlin said.
Police records show that Navek and his New Jersey-based fiance had relationship problems, including an incident in March in which the woman contacted police to report Navek firing a gun at a basement wall in their home. She did not seek a restraining order.
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Navek's former fiance ended the relationship when she found out about his relationship with Givens, the woman's mother said. They had dated for about five years.
The fiance's mother told the paper that Navek believed Houshmandpour was responsible for his dismissal from the New Jersey hospital's residency program. Police could not confirm that allegation.
Houshmandpour had a wife and 1-year-old child, police said.