BERGEN COUNTY, N.J. — A former Ashland resident and her family are grieving the loss of her two children after their father allegedly shot them, then killed himself Oct. 18 in Ringwood, N.J.

BERGEN COUNTY, N.J. — A former Ashland resident and her family are grieving the loss of her two children after their father allegedly shot them, then killed himself Oct. 18 in Ringwood, N.J.

A memorial service for Zoey Mendoza-Birth's children, Jada, 5, and Jordan, 3, is planned Saturday in Wayne, N.J. Their obituary appears in today's Mail Tribune (see below).

Police believe 38-year-old Kurtis Birth, Mendoza-Birth's husband, shot the children in the back of their heads with a .22-caliber rifle before taking his own life at his childhood home in Ringwood.

Birth and Mendoza-Birth shared a home in nearby Pompton Lakes, N.J., and were in the process of separating.

"This is a tragedy beyond comprehension," said the Ringwood police in a press release. "Our hearts and prayers go out to the victims and their families."

Chief Bernard Lombardo said there was "nothing to indicate anything like this would ever happen. There was no restraining order and no custody order in place."

Pompton Lakes police Lt. Steve Seifried confirmed that in checking his department's files, there was no record of any domestic disturbance or police calls to the Births' Pompton Lakes home. The couple had been going through a "friendly separation," and still lived together, said Seifried.

Mendoza-Birth had called police after her husband did not return home in a timely manner after picking the kids up at their day care, said Lombardo.

"Our concerns are really for the surviving family members," said Lombardo. "It's just beyond comprehension that someone would take their children's lives."

This is an abbreviated version of a story that appeared in The Record. To see the full version, go to www.northjersey.com/news/.