Coroner: Deaths of midstate mother, 2 kids confirmed murder-suicide

Written by The Associated Press | Jun 7, 2017 3:16 PM

(Strasburg) -- Authorities say autopsies have confirmed a Lancaster County mother shot her two young children and then herself before the bodies were found in their burning home.

Dr. Stephen Diamantoni, the Lancaster County coroner, ruled the deaths of 40-year-old Carola Arnau and her two children a murder-suicide after autopsies this morning.

He says Arnau shot her 10-year-old daughter multiple times in the head and her four-year-old son multiple times in the body.

Emergency responders called to the Strasburg home at about 3:20 a.m. Tuesday found the bodies in their beds in a bedroom.

The family dog was also found dead. Officials said the fire was deliberately set.

District Attorney Craig Stedman told reporters yesterday the "only small comfort" was that the children appeared to have been shot in their sleep.

A firearm was found on Arnau, who had purchased a gun Monday along with some ammunition which authorities said was accounted for. Stedman said authorities were interested in learning about her mental state from relatives and others.

Arnau's husband, he said, had been at work from 10 p.m. the previous evening "and would have not been present at the time of these offenses." He was cooperating with authorities.

Stedman said the couple had been going through "somewhat of a bitter divorce" and the situation had been "escalating." Stedman said he wasn't releasing the names of the children because he was concerned their classmates could hear of their deaths in television reports.

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