The mother of three children killed this week in what police believe was a murder-suicide said Wednesday her mother and brother weren’t in their “right minds” when the deaths occurred.
Notes found at a Toledo house indicate the children’s grandmother and uncle planned to kill themselves and the children by funneling fumes from a pickup truck into a car where their five bodies were found Monday, police said.
The children’s mother, Mandy Hayes, told WTOL-TV in Toledo her mom was her best friend, and she was close to her brother.
The children, their grandmother, 54-year-old Sandy Ford, and their uncle, 32-year-old Andy Ford, died of carbon monoxide poisoning, a coroner ruled Wednesday in a finding that confirmed what investigators already suspected.
Investigators and family friends say the murder- suicide appears to stem from a family disagreement over where the children should live.
The children, ages 5, 7 and 10, had been living with Hayes’ mother the past three years.
Hayes had decided recently to take the children back home.
Within the past week, the children moved back into their parents’ home, angering the grandmother, who believed they would be better off with her, according to child-welfare workers.
Police were called to intervene twice last week, but they said there were no signs the children were in danger.
On Monday morning, Sandy Ford picked up the children from school not long after their mother dropped them off and took them back to her home, police said.
Authorities were called to the home by the children’s frantic grandfather after he discovered the letters and was unable to force open the garage door.
Firefighters using a sledgehammer broke down the garage door to find the bodies of 5-year-old Madalyn Hayes, 7-year-old Logan Hayes and 10-year-old Paige Hayes slumped inside the car along with their grandmother and uncle. Two hoses attached to the exhaust of a pickup truck pumped gas fumes through the car’s rear window.
Toxicology tests on the children won’t be available for six to eight weeks.
A funeral for the children is set for Monday in Toledo with visitation taking place this weekend.