The bodies of three young children and one woman were found in a burning northeast Salem home Tuesday morning, and the children's father, thought to be responsible for the deaths, is believed to have been found dead in Cottage Grove.
Police have not released the identities of the victims, but detectives said they're investigating the deaths as a domestic-related murder-suicide.
The fire was reported shortly before 5:30 a.m. Tuesday when a neighbor noticed smoke coming from the home in the 2800 block of Fisher Road Northeast. As firefighters were battling the fire at the home, they found the three children and a woman inside.
Evidence suggested the victims died of homicidal violence, police said. Investigators aren't commenting on the evidence found, or how the woman or children were killed.
Less than six hours later, and roughly 85 miles away, a man believed to be the children's father was found dead in a car in the Cottage Grove area.
While police are calling the case a murder-suicide, family members at the crime scene said they didn't believe it. A man who did not want to give his name, but said he was the brother of the father, said his family would not do something like that.
"It's morbid; it's absolutely morbid," said Katie Guzman who lives nearby.
"My heart goes out to the kids. That's awful," she said. "Just to imagine what they went through."
Guzman told Fox 12 she never suspected there were any problems at the home.
"You'd see mom and dad and baby out front," she said. "She'd be sitting on the porch... dad (was) fixing stuff in that yard. Other than that, they were quiet. You'd never suspect anything."
While investigators have not released the identities of the family, Fox 12 has learned they worshipped at Slavic Christian Church in Salem. News of the investigation spread quickly through the tight-knit community.
"I'm really sorry for them," said Sergey Shcherbakov, who described the family as quiet. "And I'm surprised and actually, I never expected they'd fall in this situation."
Shchberbakov said the oldest child was around 6 years old, the youngest around 1.
Other neighbors who recalled seeing the family in passing can't believe their street has turned into a crime scene.
"I just think it's awful," neighbor Dan Grove said. "He seemed like a really nice guy."
Salem police, ATF agents, Oregon State Police troopers and the Marion County District Attorney's Office are all involved in the investigation.
Detectives are awaiting autopsy results on the bodies to determine the exact causes of death for the victims and person of interest.
Copyright 2012 KPTV (Meredith Corporation.) All rights reserved.
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