This morning's brutal murder of 52-year-old Farmington Hills resident Bob Cipriano, attacks on his wife, Rose, his 17-year-old son Salvatore (Sal), and the arrest of his 19-year-old son Tucker have left residents in three cities shocked and saddened.
In Farmington Hills, parent Stephanie Dickow Surowiec wondered what she would say to her young daughter, who attends St. Fabian School in Farmington Hills with the Ciprianos' 8-year-old daughter Isabella. The two girls were also on a swim team at the Farmington YMCA.
While she didn't know Bob Cipriano well, Surowiec said she has had "wonderful, positive experiences" with Rose Cipriano as the families carpooled for swim meets.
"I was shocked, and everyone I have talked to from the St. Fabian community is just shocked," Surowiec said, "especially given the nature of the crime."
Farmington Hills Police have arrested Tucker Cipriano, and a friend who has not yet been identified, in connection with the murder and assaults. Isabella and Tanner Cipriano, who were both in the home at the time of the attack, were not injured. Tanner is Salvatore Cipriano's twin brother.
While Surowiec heard the news before her daughter left for school this morning, she said they did not discuss the incident. As of early this afternoon, she hadn't gotten information directly from the school, but heard a letter will go home with children today. She also heard there will be a prayer service at the church this evening and possibly one tomorrow morning that the children and others in the community may attend.
Surowiec is not yet sure what she will tell her daughter, but said, "I know she's going to take it very hard."
Mary Burck, a resident of Farmington Hills, was one of only a handful to directly address Robert Cipriano's relationship with Tucker Cipriano.
"God bless you Bob," she wrote in a comment posted on a story in Farmington-Farmington Hills Patch. "You were one of the best fathers I have ever met. No one did more than these parents to try and help their son. Just a wonderful person and friend, always willing to mentor and help others. You and Rose never gave up, trying so hard to set things right. I will never forget how much you both loved Tucker and how hard you tried to help him."
Dearborn Public Schools employees stunned
Some had heard ominous information on television or the radio early today, but when employees who worked with Bob Cipriano at Dearborn Schools’ administration offices were asked to congregate in a conference room, their worst fears were confirmed.
The district’s 52-year-old business services manager was considered a financial whiz who helped guide the district through rough fiscal waters for 12 years.
“There was shock, and tears, when people were told,” Dave Mustonen, the district’s spokesman, said. "They just couldn’t believe it.”
Cipriano was remembered as an amiable co-worker and friend, who preferred to work directly with principals and employees and attended games and events after hours.
“Bob made students the priority,” said Dearborn Schools Superintendent Brian Whiston. “If we had to make cuts he would want to know how it would impact the classroom, if we were going to spend additional dollars he wanted to make sure it was being spent to help students learn.”
School Board Trustee James Schoolmaster said he was shocked by Monday’s events.
“I’m devastated by this,” he said. “He was our top financial person at the district, but he was also a very good man, and he was a very caring person. He was fabulous.”
“A familiar face” at Detroit Catholic Central
The Rev. John Huber, the principal of Detroit Catholic Central High School in Novi, where Tanner and Salvatore Cipriano attended classes, said he’s heartbroken by the turn of events.
“Bob was a familiar face here at school,” said Huber. “He and (his wife) were here all of the time; Bob was very active in our Dad’s Club, which raises money for families that cannot afford [tuition]. He worked security for our events and was a very, very dedicated volunteer."
Huber added that representatives from the school, including the dean of students and the athletic director, have visited Botsford Hospital to show support for the Cipriano family.
Huber said it’s important for those who knew and loved Robert Cipriano to focus on Bob’s family as they go through what will be a difficult transition.
“Bob loved his children,” he said. “It’s a horrible tragedy, and as much as we need to remain strong for Bob’s family, this is something that’s difficult to even try to understand.”