A family of five found dead from carbon-monoxide poisoning in their garage appears to be a murder-suicide involving a custody dispute, police in Toledo, Ohio, said Tuesday.
Firefighters had to use a sledgehammer to break through the garage door to get to the family -– 54-year-old grandmother Sandy Ford; her son, Andy Ford, 32; and Sandy’s grandchildren, Paige Hayes, 10; Logan Hayes, 6; and Madalyn Hayes, 5 –- who were sitting in a running Honda Civic. Two hoses stretched from the car’s exhaust into the vehicle, where all five sat with two family dogs and a cat, police told The Times.
Andy Ford was the children’s uncle. All were pronounced dead at the scene.
Toledo police Sgt. Joe Heffernan said police were called to the house when Sandy Ford’s husband, Randy, came home and couldn’t find the family. The couple had had custody of their grandchildren for years but a judge recently granted custody back to the children's parents, Mandy and Chris Hayes. Mandy is the daughter of Sandy and Randy Ford.
Going through the house, Randy Ford found notes written by the three children, his wife and son.
The notes indicated that Sandy Ford had “absconded with the children or something worse had happened,” Heffernan said.
The kids’ notes were “I love you, goodbye,” kind of letters, Heffernan said.
Randy tried to get into the garage, but it was blocked. Police said the adults had used wood to barricade themselves in. It looked as if both Sandy and Andy participated in the killings, Heffernan said.
By the time firefighters broke into the garage, it was clear everyone had died, said Toledo Fire and Rescue Lt. Matthew Hertzfeld. A Lucas County Coroner official said they died sometime between 8:20 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Monday.
Police had gone to the Ford home twice last week. On Nov. 6, they went after someone called police when Sandy Ford and her daughter were arguing. Later that week, they supervised a custody exchange.
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