VAN BUREN TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — Officers found a woman and her two young sons dead in their suburban Detroit home Thursday when they went there to notify the family of a fiery, fatal crash in Indiana.
Police said they went to the home after being notified of a man's death in a crash near Michigan City, Ind., which is just over the state line. When no one responded they entered through an unlocked door and found the three bodies in separate bedrooms.
Investigators didn't say how the three died but said the case was being investigated as homicide. The boys, ages 4 and 7, were found in their own beds at the home in Wayne County's Van Buren Township, police said.
Their mother was found in her bedroom.
"There was no sign of forced entry. No sign of robbery," Van Buren Township Police Capt. Gregory Laurain.
John Sullivan, the coroner in LaPorte County, Ind., identified one of the people killed in the crash as Michael VanDerLinden. Public records showed the 39-year-old VanDerLinden co-owned the Michigan home where the bodies were found with his wife, 34-year-old Linda VanDerLinden.
Officials there weren't confirming the identities of any of the people killed.
"There is a lot of speculation right now that it could possibly be the father," Laurain said Thursday when asked if police had a suspect in the slayings. "We want to get a taste of the relationship of the people who lived here … were there problems here?"
Laurain said his officers had responded to the home on any reports of domestic violence.
Authorities also were trying to tie the two together and determine why VanDerLinden was in Indiana, Sullivan said.
Laurain confirmed that a weapon was found in the home, but didn't indicate what kind. It was too early to speculate about what happened at the home, but police planned to search the burned wreckage of the car involved in the Indiana crash for a possible suicide note or other evidence, he added.
Authorities went through the home about 25 miles west of Detroit, collecting computers and answering machines. Laurain said the woman who was killed was described as a stay-at-home mother, while the man who died in the crash worked in information technology.
Rita Jones, who lives next door to the family, said she spoke often with Linda VanDerLinden and described the couple's sons, Julien and Matthew, as "very polite young boys."
"Linda was a very friendly, outgoing young lady and so were her boys," Jones said. "She was my neighbor and she was a friend of mine."
Michael VanDerLinden was not so outgoing, Jones added.
"He was … not so friendly," she said. "He was more, like, to himself. He wouldn't stay out and talk. He wasn't as friendly as she was."
Police in Indiana said earlier that two people died about 1:30 a.m. on Interstate 94 in the crash which was caused by a driver going the wrong way. Police said it appeared the driver left a highway rest area going eastbound in the westbound lanes and hit another vehicle head-on, causing a fire that engulfed both vehicles.
Michael VanDerLinden and 45-year-old Juan Nelson Jr. of Portage in West Michigan were pronounced dead at the scene, Sullivan said. Two westbound lanes of I-94 near Michigan City were closed for several hours after the crash.
Police say the circumstances of the crash remained under investigation.
Associated Press writer Tom Coyne in South Bend, Ind., and AP news researcher Judith Ausuebel in New York contributed to this report.