SALEM - Salem police detectives were trying to tie up loose ends Monday in the wake of a murder-suicide early Sunday which left a Salem Walmart employee dead and her co-workers heartbroken over her loss.
"We are working with the family on how we can best support them," Walmart spokeswoman Kayla Whaling said.
Sylvia Maillis, 37, of Canfield, worked the 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. shift as overnight support manager and had gone on her lunch break with a couple of co-workers to Taco Bell and Dunkin' Donuts.
They returned to the employee parking lot next to the market side of the store and were inside her car when her ex-boyfriend, 36-year-old Charles Kropinak, of Campbell, pulled up a couple of spaces down and exited his vehicle.
She exited her vehicle and the two argued, then Kropinak pulled out a 9mm Ruger semi-automatic handgun and shot Maillis multiple times before shooting himself.
They were both dead at the scene, with the handgun found near Kropinak. Police received the first 911 call at 2:40 a.m. from a caller at Walmart who said somebody had been shot. The caller said they didn't know what was going on but somebody was shot.
"We are all devastated by this tragedy and will miss Sylvia dearly. She was the kind of person who always had a smile on her face and could brighten up anyone's day. Sylvia will be remembered by all those who were fortunate to work with her over the years at the store," Salem Walmart store manager Toni Cronin said in a written statement.
Whaling, who works for Walmart Media Relations, said there has been overwhelming support from associates from other Walmart stores in the area who have pitched in and helped out to cover shifts during an obviously difficult time for Sylvia's co-workers.
She also said the company arranged for counselors to be at the store to help the employees.
Salem police Det. Brad Davis, who interviewed some of her co-workers as part of the investigation, said they "all said her life was her daughter."
She had a 9-year-old daughter and had worked for Walmart since 2005. According to Davis, she had a Canfield address but lived on Washingtonville Road.
He couldn't confirm whether she had a protection order against Kropinak or not, saying he couldn't find a record of one and if she had one previously, it must have expired. He confirmed that Kropinak did hold a conceal carry permit. A protection order prohibits the person the order is against from having a firearm.
Panezott said the store's video surveillance showed the whole scene allowing them to determine it was a murder-suicide. They also had multiple witnesses who were interviewed, along with family members.
"By getting out of the car, she probably saved her friends who were in the car," he said.
He also said "domestic violence is horrible" and can happen anywhere at any time. He said it's unpredictable and noted that even if there had been a protection order on file with the department, it would not have prevented what happened.
"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family," Panezott said.
He added that Walmart was very cooperative with police. The store was closed for a period after the shooting and reopened later in the morning.