An American man killed his wife, their young son and six-month-old twin daughters before committing suicide at the family’s home, police said.
Investigators said Thursday the tragedy is being investigated as a murder-suicide, with the father, 44-year-old Jasen Hudgens, believed to be the only suspect in the murder, the New York Post reports.
The victims were identified Thursday as Hudgens’ wife, 40-year-old Marla Hudgens, and the couple’s three children – three-year-old Christopher and six-month-old Gwen and Faye.
According to officials, the two adults and three children had clear signs of trauma, but the causes of death were not released Friday.
Marla Hudgens’ friends said her and Jasen’s marriage was unhappy and she wanted to end it, but they never imagined it could lead to violence, let alone claim the lives of their children.
Police responded to the Hudgens family home on Augusta Ave just before 8 a.m. Wednesday after the family’s babysitter discovered their bodies and called 911.
Police said there were open propane tanks in the house and a gas line that was not connected to a kitchen appliance.
It took hazmat teams hours to get rid of the gas and secure the house before police could safely access the crime scene, which they finally did around noon and discovered the five bodies.
“Not only is this devastating to the first responders who had to respond and witness what’s inside, but this neighborhood is very close-knit, including the extended loved ones and family members who are related to this house and property,” said Sgt. Melissa Soliz, a police spokesperson, called the incident “a complete tragedy.”
Marla Hudgens was a valued partner at the Lewis Roca law firm in Phoenix. She was also heavily involved in charity work and coached a girls soccer team.
Her husband worked for local utility company SRP, the company’s representatives confirmed in a statement to Fox 10.
According to her friends who spoke to the AZ Family news station, Marla first became a mother in her late 30s after struggling with infertility, but they said her marriage to Jasen was unraveling and headed for divorce.
“We never had any indication from her that she felt scared, threatened or unsafe,” says her close friend Brett Hagerty.
Another friend, Khanh Andersen, told the outlet that the deaths came just two months after Marla’s sister took her own life.