Elderly couple dead in NJ house blast, no foul play suspected

In Gloucester County, two people are dead after their home exploded. The blast was so severe, nothing but rubble is left behind.

"I screamed 'Earthquake' and I yelled 'Get dressed, get out of the house, out of the house!'" exclaimed neighbor Marlene Rambone.

Neighbors went into panic mode in Newfield Borough Saturday morning.

"All I felt was this big rumble and when I went downstairs, all the glass was broken. Everything gone," said neighbor Paul Vidal.

It was not an earthquake, but a house explosion next door that leveled a home and killed the two people inside. Neighbors describe them as an elderly couple - parents and grandparents - who have been involved in the community for decades.

Killed in the explosion were 72-year-old Carole Paladino and her husband, 73-year-old John Paladino.

"He was very good hearted. He helped me with things around my house and my yard for years," Rambone described.

"My son adored John. He'd go over and help him do stuff in the driveway and they let us use their pool. His daughter babysat us when we were kids," said Audra Manasco.

Police say it was around 6:15 Saturday morning the Oakwood Avenue home exploded. Furniture skyrocketed into the air and a mattress was lodged high in the trees hours later. Debris was scattered on neighbors' lawns several hundred feet away.

"It was loud. Yeah, people reported hearing it in Elmer and Vineland. We didn't know what it was," said neighbor Erica Fry.

Fry says she lives around the corner. The startling boom prompted her to walk over to see what happened. Once she arrived, she couldn't help but get involved.

"I wanted to pick up the cards and stuff, just in case she wants to hold onto them. It's stuff the kids had written and anniversary cards. Stuff like that and I'd imagine they'd want to get that stuff. Obviously it's something like this you wouldn't get back, you know," Fry explained.

Fry says her family has lived in the town for years and knows the victims well. Other neighbors identified a distraught woman at the scene as the couple's daughter. Neighbors say the retired husband served on a local school board and his wife was a retired school nurse. The tragedy leaves an entire community heartbroken.

"It's scary. It's a tragedy that, you know, a small, quiet town nothing like this ever happens, you know? We have a lot of good memories of them. They were really good people," stated Manasco.

The county fire marshal is investigating, along with several other agencies, including a state police arson-bomb unit, the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Franklin Township police department.