Woman and three children found dead in West Brookfield home
WEST BROOKFIELD — Three children and a woman were found dead inside a home on Old Warren Road in this Central Massachusetts town Thursday, law enforcement officials said.
The children were a 7-year-old girl and two boys, ages 5 and 2, authorities said. The victims were not identified Thursday night, and authorities did not reveal the relationship between the woman and children.
“At this time, we are treating the deaths as suspicious,” Worcester District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr. said at news conference across the street from the home late Thursday night.
One law enforcement official briefed on the case said the victims had suffered from “burn type” injuries. The official requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case.
Police saw evidence that several fires had been lit at the home, but the fires burned out on their own, the official said.
West Brookfield police responded to the home at 10 Old Warren Rd. to conduct a well-being check at about 3:30 p.m., Early said.
Another official briefed on the case said a police officer found the bodies after a man who lives at the residence called police and requested the well-being check.
The man told police he was calling from California, the official said.
West Brookfield Police Chief C. Thomas O’Donnell said police “found the four victims in an upstairs bedroom.”
Neither Early nor O’Donnell said how the victims died. But there is no reason to believe the public is in danger, the chief said.
A law enforcement official initially reported that there were four children who died. The district attorney later said three children died.
A search warrant was obtained and State Police and other law enforcement officials entered the home late Thursday night to continue their investigation, Early said.
He stressed that it is “very, very early in this investigation, and there are a lot of questions that still need to be answered.” He asked that anyone with information that might be helpful in the investigation call State Police headquarters at 508-820-2121.
Two of the children were students at West Brookfield Elementary School, said Brett Kustigian, superintendent of the Quaboag Regional School District, in a statement.
The school district plans to operate on “our normal schedule” Friday, Kustigian said. “Our crisis teams are working feverishly to plan for tomorrow. Extra grief counseling will be available for all students and staff.”
A large crime scene was established around the white, single-story home, which is surrounded by woods in a neighborhood off Route 9. The town of about 3,400 residents is located about 20 miles west of Worcester.
Yellow police tape was stretched from utility poles to trees outside the home and dangled from the legs of a picnic table.
Flood lights lit the yard of the home, while ambulances and police and fire department vehicles lined Old Warren Road and overflowed into the parking lot of Northeast Pizza across the street.
West Brookfield police, the state fire marshal’s office, and Massachusetts State Police deferred comment to Early’s office.
Local and State Police responded to a “major incident” on Old Warren Road, West Brookfield police tweeted around 5:30 p.m. The road, located between Route 9 and Laurel Street, was closed to traffic.
The police activity drew several residents to the scene.
Sandi Wenzel, who lives about a quarter of a mile away, said she was saddened to learn of the grim discovery inside the home.
“I used to see the little girls get off the bus and they were adorable,” she said by telephone Thursday night. “It’s horrible.”
Mike Bello and Kathy McCabe of the Globe staff contributed to this report.