SAN DIEGO — Cyanide--but no suicide note--was found in the car containing the body of Ian Stuart Spiro, who has been the chief suspect in the slayings of his wife and three children, the San Diego County Sheriff's Department confirmed Thursday.
The actual cause of Spiro's death has not been announced pending results from toxicology studies by the San Diego County medical examiner's office.
Spiro, 46, a purported British spy, was suspected in the execution-style killings nearly two weeks ago of his wife, Gail, 40, and their three children--Sara, 16, Adam, 14, and Dina, 11. Each was shot in the head and found in their bedrooms in their rented Rancho Santa Fe home.
In other developments, a maid working for the family said she may have stumbled onto a murder scene the morning after authorities believe Spiro shot his wife and children to death.
The maid, who only identified herself as Paula, said in a report published Thursday in the San Diego Union-Tribune that she arrived at work Nov. 2 to find the luxury home unusually quiet.
Normally, Spiro would be dressed and busy making coffee or bagging the children's lunches, according to the maid. But she said Spiro, dressed in a bathrobe and looking disheveled, told her that there was no work for her and that he would drive her back to her home in a migrant camp.
She said that she asked why she couldn't work and that he replied: "Because my wife and kids are not here."
According to the maid, Spiro changed clothes before driving her home, putting on a green, short-sleeve shirt and blue jogging pants. Detectives said Spiro was wearing those clothes when his body was found.
When Spiro dropped the maid off, he said: "I'm sorry. I have problems," she quoted him as saying.
Authorities have yet to suggest any motives for the killings. Despite rampant speculation in the British press that Spiro and his family may have been killed by foreign agents, acquaintances of the family say Spiro may have fallen on tough financial times.
Spiro's body was found Sunday afternoon in the driver's seat of his locked Ford Explorer by hikers in the Anza-Borrego Desert, about 75 miles northeast of San Diego.
Lt. John Tenwolde of the sheriff's homicide detail said Thursday that detectives completed their search of Spiro's vehicle "and found several grams of granular sodium cyanide in a bag between the front seats."
Cyanide, which can be obtained through chemical supply houses, is a highly toxic chemical that can cause death within minutes.
"Also found were a cup and two water bottles, one of which was full and the other empty," Tenwolde said. "No weapons were in the vehicle nor were there any communications regarding the death of Ian Spiro or his family."
After a memorial service for the family Wednesday at the St. James-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church in La Jolla, Gail Spiro's brother, Ken Quarton, told reporters he believed that all of the family members, including Ian Spiro, were murdered.
Quarton said he believed the deaths were linked to threatening telephone calls that Ian Spiro said he was receiving less than a week before the deaths.
Quarton quoted Spiro as saying: "Something has come back to haunt me, and if you want to know what it is, read the book by Terry Waite."
Spiro would have been referring to a book being written by former Anglican Church envoy Terry Waite, who worked to release Western hostages held in Lebanon before he was taken captive in 1987. London newspapers have reported that Spiro worked for the CIA and British intelligence in Lebanon in the 1980s and assisted Lt. Col. Oliver North and Waite in attempts to free hostages.