Family of 6 found dead in Far North Side home

A family of six was found dead at a Far North Side home Thursday after police conducting a welfare check came across a “cryptic note” and chemical odor, which led to an evacuation.

The bodies of a husband, wife, four children and two cats were found in the garage of the home in the 100 block of Red Willow, San Antonio Police Chief William McManus said.

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While McManus said suicide was a possibility, he declined to elaborate. He did say there is evidence that the deaths were not an accident.

The couple was in their mid- to late 30s, McManus said, and the children were between 11 months to 4 years old.

McManus said police were called at 10:30 a.m. for a welfare check of the husband, who was working from home, when he didn’t check in with his place of employment.

“They were OK yesterday because he checked in with his work,” McManus said. “So it happened sometime overnight.”

McManus said seven officers walked inside the home and were immediately overcome by a heavy, noxious fume. They were checked by EMS and determined to be unharmed. Late Thursday, McManus said the odor was carbon monoxide.

“Most officers know what the smell of decomposing bodies is, and that’s not what has been described,” the chief said.

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On the front door was a “cryptic note” with military jargon, the chief said.

A member of the military helped police with a translation: “Bodies or people inside, do not enter,” the chief said.

It continued: “The animals are in the freezer.”

A drone sent inside the house found what appeared to be explosives, preventing police from immediately searching the home in the 100 block of Red Willow at the Heights at Stone Oak subdivision, and prompting the evacuation of more than 200 homes nearby at about 5 p.m.

After officers encountered the carbon monoxide, officials weighed how to continue their investigation.

“We believe this place may be booby-trapped, and we have not determined the best way to make entry yet,” McManus said at a 5:30 p.m. news conference.

McManus said at about 10 p.m. that no explosives were found inside the home.

“Based on the note that we received, we were very cautious about going in, and we were trying to find out what was in there before we made entry,” the chief said.

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When officials were able to enter the home, the family was found in the garage.

McManus said the family was found in the back of a small SUV, investigators said.

The cats were in a basket in the front seat, he said.

The husband was a member of the military and lived with his wife and children, investigators said. The chief declined to say which branch the man served.

Police said they have only been called to the home, which the family had rented since January, once in the last six months.

Evacuees were allowed back into their homes by about 9 p.m.

Joseph Arrington, a San Antonio Fire Department spokesman, says the evacuation alert that was first sent encountered a glitch and was accidentally sent to the entire North Side before operators could specify the perimeter.

The FBI and military were assisting police with the investigation.

McManus said homicide detectives are combing the home for additional evidence.

“This is just the beginning of the investigation,” McManus said.

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