Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Tears amid Prayers

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Tears amid Prayers

Article excerpt

MIDLAND PARK - Hundreds gathered under an intense blue autumn sky Sunday to pray and reaffirm their sense of community after a 48- year-old mother of two sons was stabbed to death in what authorities said was a brutal attack by her estranged boyfriend.

Suzanne Bardzell had pulled into the driveway of her home on Godwin Avenue on Thursday, police said, when Arthur J. Lomando, 44, suddenly appeared, smashed the driver's-side window of her SUV and stabbed her with a machete-like knife.

Hours later, Lomando jumped in front of a subway train in New York City, in an apparent suicide attempt, police said. He was rushed to a hospital, where surgeons amputated both his feet in an effort to save his life. Lomando was charged with murder and related weapons offenses.

One of Bardzell's sons, Adam, sobbed wordlessly as he was surrounded in the embrace of fellow members of the Midland Park High School football team while neighbors and clergy prayed for guidance in the face of one of the most challenging and perplexing events they said the town of 7,000 had ever experienced.

Wortendyke Park, where the memorial was held, was bathed in late- afternoon sunlight that had replaced gray skies and rain earlier in the day. Red and orange leaves fluttered from the trees.

"I feel horrible for the kids and her family," said a neighbor, Joan Rozema. "What happened here can happen anywhere, even in our little town."

Mayor Patrick O'Hagan, asked if he was satisfied that authorities had done all they could to protect Bardzell after Lomando had been the subject of two intense but unsuccessful manhunts after repeated violations of orders of protection against him, said there was "absolutely nothing" else that could have been done.

"I can't go into details, but I think people would be pleased to know what was being done," O'Hagan said. "It would have taken a 24- hour-a-day bodyguard to do any more. …

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