RANCHO CORDOVA (CBS13/AP) – Sheriff’s deputies have detained one person in connection with the slaying of a mother and her two toddler children in Rancho Cordova on Tuesday. They also found the van believed to have been taken by the suspect.
A mother and her two young toddlers were found dead inside their home on Tuesday afternoon in what investigators called a horrific scene.
The family’s missing van was found at a Rocklin Denny’s early Wednesday morning by Rocklin police who notified deputies. A man believed to be in possession of the van was detained for questioning at around 2 a.m., but has not been identified as the murder suspect. His identity has not been released.
According to the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Sgt. Jason Ramos, a father came home to the house in the 10100 block of De Soto Way about 3:30 p.m. and saw the bodies inside. He ran to a neighbor’s house and they called 911.
A 2-year-old boy and 3-year-old girl were killed “very violently” along with their mother, who was in her 20s, Ramos said. A crying 6-month-old baby boy was also located in the back of the home unharmed in a crib.
“This is somebody who confronted a family inside their homes and took their lives very violently,” Ramos said.
Investigators say a gun was not used in the killings.
An army of law enforcement officers converged at the home and the father and neighbor were detained for questioning but are not considered suspects. The investigation is being complicated by a language barrier, CBS13′s Ron Jones reported. The family is of eastern European descent.
Ramos said investigators have not identified a suspect and were searching the neighborhood. He said the crime was “shocking, even to veteran law enforcement.”
Ramos had to pull himself away from an on-camera interview to compose himself.
“We’re all human so it impacts all of us significantly,” he said. “We’re looking into everything. We have a mom and two kids dead.”
The woman’s family issued a statement Tuesday night: “We’ll greatly miss her and the children. She was a lovely woman of heart, one of a kind, an awesome mom for the babies. We still can’t believe they’re gone.”
CBS13 learned the woman was a Sunday school teacher at a local Slavic church and had recently graduated from Sacramento State.
Chaplains were staying on scene late Tuesday night.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)