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Wrong-way driver a possible suicide, may have killed his family

August 17, 2012|By Tina Susman
  • A home in Van Buren Township, Mich., where police say they found a woman and her two young sons dead when they went there to notify the family of a fatal crash in Indiana.
A home in Van Buren Township, Mich., where police say they found a woman and… (Corey Williams / Associated…)

A wrong-way driver who died in an Indiana highway collision that also killed another man may have committed suicide after murdering his wife and two young children, say police who are investigating the circumstances of the family's death.

The mystery began Thursday morning after police went to the home of Michael Vanderlinden, in a suburb of Detroit, to notify his wife that he had died in a car crash hours earlier. Vanderlinden, 39, was killed when his car, which was traveling the wrong way on Interstate 94, smashed into a vehicle driven by Juan Nelson Jr. of Portage, Ind.

Portage, 45, was killed in the crash, which occurred near the Michigan state line.

When police rang the doorbell at the Vanderlinden home -- a brick house with a swing set, a well-kept garden, and children's artwork displayed in a window -- no one answered. Finding the front door unlocked, they went inside and discovered the bodies of a woman and two boys.

The Associated Press said police did not immediately identify the dead, but it quoted neighbors as saying the boys were Vanderdinden's sons, Julien, age 7, and Matthew, age 4. His wife was Linda Vanderlinden, 34. The police captain in Van Buren Township, Gregory Laurain, said investigators hoped to find clues in the wreckage of Michael Vanderlinden's car to explain what had happened.

"We have no other leads to push us to any other suspects. It's one of those puzzles you have to put together," he said, AP reported. "There is a lot of speculation right now that it could possibly be the father. We want to get a taste of the relationship of the people who lived here ... were there problems here?"

Police did not say how the woman and boys had died. According to Laurain, there was no evidence of forced entry into the house.

The Detroit Free Press quoted local police as saying Michael Vanderlinden had overdosed on sleeping pills last November amid marital strife.

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