The vice president of a bankrupt Columbia mortgage lender apparently jumped to his death from the Delaware Memorial Bridge yesterday shortly after his wife's body was found inside their New Jersey home, police said.
Police are investigating the deaths of Walter P. Buczynski, 59, and his wife, Marcie Buczynski, 37, as a murder-suicide.
Walter Buczynski was vice president of the subprime mortgage lender Fieldstone Investment Corp.
Rescue workers began looking for Buczynski's body in the Delaware River after a report that a man had stopped his blue Acura sport utility vehicle on the westbound side of the Delaware Memorial Bridge about 12:30 p.m. and jumped, according to the Burlington County, N.J., prosecutor's office.
A short time earlier, police discovered Marcie Buczynski's body in the bedroom of their home in Evesham, N.J. Police were responding to a call by a man who asked them to check on her well-being.
An autopsy on Mrs. Buczynski was scheduled for today. Search teams were unable to locate Walter Buczynski's body last night. Efforts were to resume today.
Though he lived in New Jersey, Buczynski drove two hours each day to work in Columbia and then two hours each night to be home with his wife and two boys, friends said. The children are in the care of family members, according to the prosecutor's office.
Two people who worked with Buczynski said they didn't see any warning signs.
"He was a great guy," said Gary K. Uchino, who was chief credit officer of the company until he was laid off in October. Even after Uchino left the company, the two kept in touch, talking by phone three or four times a month.
"He seemed to be OK," Uchino said of the last time they talked, last week. "It was like, 'How's your wife, how's your family?' - that kind of thing."
Buczynski's work at the company involved selling secondary loans to other companies, a job that wasn't particularly stressful, Uchino said. "Personally, I think it was something in his personal life that triggered this," he said.
Once ranked among the top 20 subprime lenders in the nation, Fieldstone sank into bankruptcy last year after loan defaults soared and some borrowers failed to make even their first few mortgage payments. In court filings, Fieldstone reported $121 million in liabilities and less than $15 million in assets.
Buczynski had held the position of executive vice president since January 2003, serving previously as senior vice president. Before joining the company in 2000, he served as chief operating officer of First Home Mortgage Corp. He had also held positions with G.E. Capital Mortgage Services Inc. and Margaretten & Co.
He received his bachelor's degree from Rutgers University and had served as a helicopter pilot in the Vietnam War, according to a former co-worker, Robert G. Partlow.
Partlow, the company's former chief financial officer, who resigned for personal reasons in 2005, said Buczynski was "very well-regarded in the mortgage business."
"From what I know, this was definitely out of character," Partlow said. "The thing that impressed me, we'd have a meeting that would last until 7 or 8, and he'd get in his car and drive home."
Sun reporter Dennis O'Brien contributed to this article.