A University of Maryland student and his younger brother, who was about to enter the U.S. Naval Academy, were found shot to death Thursday in their home near Philadelphia along with their parents, authorities said.

Police said the four died in an apparent murder-suicide at their home, in Chester County, Pa., according to the Associated Press. They said the father apparently shot his wife and children and himself.

The family members were identified as Davis Weaver, 61; Nancy Weaver, 51; and their children, Matthew Davis Weaver, 21, and Mark Joseph Weaver, 18.

Matthew Weaver attended U-Md. College Park, and Mark Weaver was to enter the Naval Academy in Annapolis as a freshman, officials said. They were described by a neighbor as outstanding students and athletes.

Matthew Weaver would have been a senior in the fall, according to U-Md. spokesman George Cathcart. He was an honors student majoring in landscape architecture.

Matthew Weaver was awarded the Siegfried Weisberger Jr. Memorial Fund scholarship and served as an "Ag Ambassador" for the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, helping to recruit new students.

On a scholarship Web site, he wrote that he loved sitting in the university's Hornbake Plaza on a warm afternoon and watching people come and go.

He also wrote that he enjoyed the honors seminars he had taken at U-Md. and the opportunities available in landscape architecture on campus and in the Washington area.

He planned to become a landscape architect and was considering graduate school for planning or architecture. "I believe that social and environmental justice are inseparable," he wrote, "and that intelligent design can do much to improve the lives of others."

His favorite quote, he wrote, was, "So here I am, it's in my hands, and I'll savor every moment of this," from a song by the band the Used.

"This quote reminds me that I have control over my life, what I want it to be, and what I want to do with it," he wrote. "It helps me realize that no matter what happens, to enjoy what I have and what I can do as much as possible."

The brothers had attended St. Mark's, a private high school in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Wilmington, Del.

A spokesman for the high school, Tom Ogden, said in an interview last night that both of the brothers were "caring, giving young people."

He said their academic excellence was demonstrated by their enrollment in Advanced Placement classes, their membership in the National Honor Society and their participation in interscholastic Science Olympiad competition.

He said Matthew Weaver was a swimmer and cross-country runner.

Mark Weaver was on the football and swim teams at St. Mark's, Ogden said.

He said both of them were "exceedingly well-liked by students."

Mark Weaver had served on the executive council of the student government.

Ogden said that he had a son in the 10th grade, and that he would "be very proud if my son turned out the way the Weaver boys were destined to turn out. . . . "

Ogden's 19-year-old daughter, Kate, who knew the brothers, called them "the nicest boys I ever met."

Others who were interviewed or gave statements to news organizations after the deaths also called the brothers exceptional.

Elizabeth Weiss, an assistant to the dean for admissions and recruitment at U-Md., told the Philadelphia Daily News that she saw Matthew Weaver almost weekly during school.

He "didn't indicate anything was wrong. . . . He had a wonderful smile, very outgoing. Matt was always upbeat, always smiling. . . . He's going to be sorely missed," she said.

Naval Academy spokesman Rod Gibbons told the Daily News, "For anyone to be accepted at the Naval Academy, they are absolutely among the best and brightest young adults in the country." He confirmed that Mark Weaver was to report to the school at the end of the month to begin his studies for the Class of 2009.

Davis Weaver and Nancy Weaver were described as educators in the Christina school system in Wilmington.

Davis Weaver had been on medical leave since March 22 and was to retire at the end of June, a spokeswoman for the school system told the Philadelphia newspaper. According to the Daily News, Wendy Lapham declined to say why Weaver was on medical leave.

Davis Weaver had worked for the school system for 37 years, most recently as a guidance counselor at F.D. Stubbs Intermediate School in Wilmington.

Nancy Weaver was with the system for 26 years and was a pre-kindergarten and kindergarten teacher at the Margaret S. Sterck School-Delaware School for the Deaf in Newark, Lapham said.

Staff writers Martin Weil, Ray Rivera and Elizabeth Williamson contributed to this report.

Matthew WeaverMark Weaver