TOLEDO, Ohio — Caught up in a family disagreement over who should care for three young children, a grandmother and her son barricaded themselves and the children in a garage and filled it with deadly carbon monoxide gas. All five died.
Police spent Tuesday trying to explain the heartbreaking scene discovered a day earlier at the home of 54-year-old Sandy Ford and her son Andy in a quiet Toledo neighborhood.
Firefighters using a sledgehammer broke down the garage door to find the bodies of 5-year-old Madalyn Hayes; her 6-year-old brother, Logan; and her 10-year-old sister, Paige, slumped inside a car, along with their grandmother and uncle. Two hoses attached to the exhaust of a pickup truck pumped gas fumes through the car’s rear window.
Police said letters inside the house indicated the woman and her son plotted the murder-suicide, beginning by picking up the children from school Monday morning after their mother had dropped them off earlier.
They also had disabled the garage door opener and nailed plywood over the windows, said Toledo police Sergeant Joe Heffernan.
Authorities were called to the home by the children’s frantic grandfather after he discovered the letters and was unable to force open the garage door.
Until last week, the children had spent the last three years living with their grandparents, Sandy and Randy Ford, and their uncle at the house in a residential neighborhood.
Their mother, Mandy Hayes, had asked her mother for help caring for the three children because a fourth child at the home was becoming disruptive. But recently Hayes had decided they should all return home, and the children moved back in with their parents last week, upsetting Hayes’s mother, Turner said.