A US accountant killed his wife and their three children before shooting himself, leaving a gruesome scene that was discovered by the youngsters’ grandfather.
Authorities did not specify a motive but said there was evidence Christopher Wood faced psychiatric and financial problems.
When investigators arrived at the two-storey house in Middletown, Maryland, the couple’s two sons, aged five and four, lay dead in their beds, while the bodies of a two-year-old daughter and her mother, Francis Wood, 33, were in the master bedroom, Frederick County sheriff’s office spokeswoman Jennifer Bailey said.
The body of 34-year-old Wood lay on the master bedroom floor by the foot of the bed. He had died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, Ms Bailey said.
Mrs Wood and the children suffered “traumatic cuts” and each also had at least one gunshot wound from a .25-calibre handgun, Frederick County sheriff Charles Jenkins said.
The woman’s father found them dead at around 9am yesterday. He had grown concerned after not hearing from them for several days, Ms Bailey said.
Wood had apologised to family members in one of five notes he wrote and left at the scene, and he indicated in a note that he had psychiatric problems, Sheriff Jenkins said.
The sheriff also said there was evidence that Wood, a sales accountant at railway operator CSX Corporation, faced financial problems and may have been in debt.
The family had moved months ago to the home in Middletown, a community of less than 3,000 people about 55 miles north west of Washington DC, friends said.