A 35-year-old man, distraught over losing custody of his two young children Thursday, allegedly killed them at his Yorba Linda area home before turning a gun on himself, authorities said.
Sheriff's deputies found David Dean Von Haden and the blood-soaked bodies of his two children lying on a bed in the master bedroom shortly before 6 p.m. They were unable to determine how the children died because there was so much blood on the bodies, Orange County Sheriff's Lt. Ron Wilkerson said.
"It's not obvious where the blood came from," Wilkerson said. "The mother was awarded custody today, and this apparently was the result of that."
Von Haden was arrested on suspicion of two counts of murder. He remained in Western Medical Center-Santa Ana on Thursday night suffering from what deputies described as at least one self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest. Authorities said they did not know his condition, and the hospital would not release any information on him.
Wilkerson said Von Haden had lost custody earlier Thursday of the two children--a 2-year-old girl and a 4-year-old boy, both of whom were unidentified--to his estranged wife, Laurie Von Haden, 33. The couple had joint custody until Thursday, he said. Laurie Von Haden also was awarded rights to the family home in the 19900 block of Bentwood Court, in an unincorporated area near Yorba Linda.
After the court hearing, Laurie Von Haden found that David Von Haden had picked up the children from a baby-sitter, Wilkerson said. Laurie Von Haden later learned that her husband was distraught over the court's decision, he said.
"There was a conversation he had, we're unsure with whom, that he was discontented and interested in taking some kind of action," Wilkerson said. "There were a number of people involved, and we're not sure what track this situation took before it got to us."
Laurie Von Haden alerted sheriff's deputies that "she thought he was going to harm the children," Wilkerson said.
The deputies met her at the three-bedroom white stucco home shortly before 6 p.m. and broke in when no one responded to their knocks.
The deputies found the children with David Von Haden on the bed in the master bedroom. He had shot himself in the chest and a revolver was found on the floor near the bed, Wilkerson said. David Von Haden was drifting in and out of consciousness when police arrived, Wilkerson said.
Laurie Von Haden, who had been living with her mother, waited outside while deputies searched the home, and she did not see her children's bodies, Wilkerson said.
A 32-year-old resident who lives across the street from the family's home in the small cul-de-sac lined by about a dozen homes said her 5-year-old son sometimes played with the Von Haden children.
"I'm totally shocked," said the neighbor, who declined to give her name. "I just can't believe this happened. They seemed like really nice parents."