Death of Brock Prof, Wife Result of ‘Suicide Pact’


Dr. Jonathan Neufeld, a 59-year-old a professor at Brock University and his wife, Christina Starkbaum, 57, were found dead near their rural home in Ontario, Canada Tuesday. Niagara Regional Police officials retrieved the bodies from the woods behind their Centre Street house. They believe that the death was a suicide agreement between the pair.

"Niagara Regional Police do not believe these deaths are suspicious, however, they are the result of a suicide pact," Const. Derek Watson told Canoe.

People in the neighborhood told the police that Neufeld killed Starkbaum, and then shot himself. The couple lived in the Fenwick neighborhood for about eight years.

According to, they killed themselves just days after being charged in a $9 multimillion dollar I.R.S. scam by the U.S. attorney's office in Buffalo. Five other Canadians were also charged in the con.

"They're accused of filing false tax returns and claiming 3.5 million in refunds to which they weren't entitled."

If convicted, the remaining alleged accused could face between five and 10 years in prison, and a fine of $250,000 or both.

Neufeld, an associate professor in the Faculty of Education, taught in the Department of Graduate and Undergraduate Studies. Until his death, Neufeld was an active faculty member at the school, teaching one graduate level class in September.

According to Ontario's sunshine list, Neufeld, an employee with the university since 1995, earned $134,271.49 in 2012.

The university is 'saddened' by the prof's death and offered sincere condolences to his family, friends, students and colleagues.

"On behalf of the entre Faculty of Education community we mourn the death of a fine scholar," said the department's dean, Fiona Blaikie in an official statement.

Ruth Morgan, a neighbor who lived across the street from the couple's Pelham home, described them as 'extremely private.'

"They would say hello to you if you saw them outside getting the mail, but no one really knew them very well," Morgan told The Star.

Dave Augustyn, the mayor of Pelham, assured that despite this tragic incident the town is quite safe.

"It's important people realize we do have a safe community," Augustyn told Well And Tribune. "I can't remember the last time, if ever, something like this happened here."

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