Investigators believe a Virginia man shot and killed his wife and their three young daughters before turning the gun on himself after an argument, authorities said. The deaths have been preliminary ruled as a murder-suicide, the Culpeper County Sheriff’s Office said, WTTG-TV reported.
The bodies of Clarence and Shauna Washington, both 35, along with their three children – Olivia, 4; Onya, 6; and Omesha, 13 – were discovered inside the family’s Culpeper home after relatives went to check on them at about 10 p.m. Sunday evening, WRC-TV reported.
Friends and family told investigators that the parents had been arguing for some time and got into a heated argument Saturday night. Authorities said they never received an emergency call from the home.
Investigators believe the husband fatally killed his family after engaging in an argument with his wife and then killed himself.
Authorities said Shauna Washington’s mother and a cousin went to their home because they were concerned that the family was absent from church earlier that day. They found the house was locked up, but Minor forced her way in through a small window.
There, the women discovered the bodies of the five family members.
Nicole Minor-Melvin, another cousin of Shauna Washington, had mentioned that Shauna had discussed wanting to end her marriage – but she didn’t know that her cousin’s life was in danger.
“My prayers, my pictures of us, our conversations — that was my sister,” Minor-Melvin told WRC-TV. “That’s my heart, my best friend, my world,”
A gun was found inside the home. Family members said Clarence Washington had owned four guns, and the couple had been experiencing growing difficulties, but added that Clarence was not a bad person, and was good provider. Shauna’s family members added that Clarence did not have a criminal history, but have no doubt he is responsible for the crime.
Investigators from the Culpeper County Sheriff’s Office and the Virginia State Police were still collecting evidence from the home on Monday.