Police: Five Dead, Including Three Children, in Suspected Murder-Suicide

A Toledo, Ohio grandmother who apparently wanted to keep her daughter and son-in-law from gaining custody of three children is believed to have killed them, her son and herself in a murder-suicide.

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AP / The Blade, Amy E. Voigt

Authorities respond to a report of carbon monoxide poisoning on Harvest Lane in Toledo

Police believe the bodies of five family members discovered in a Toledo, Ohio garage were victims of a murder-suicide sparked by a custody dispute between a grandmother and her daughter.

The bodies of Sandy Ford, 56; Andy Ford, 32; Paige Hayes, 10; Logan Hayes, 7; and Mada­lyn Hayes, 5, were discovered by police Monday afternoon in a garage on the city’s west side.  After reportedly finding “suspicious” notes from his family, Sandy Ford’s husband, Randy, became worried and called police to check on them. When he went to his home’s garage door he said he found it barricaded. Toledo emergency responders broke down the door but too late; all five were found dead of carbon monoxide poisoning.

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A hose from the exhaust of a pickup truck was run into the window of a Honda Civic, police said. The rigging of the two cars, both of which were parked in the garage, led police to believe the nature of the deaths were a murder-suicide.

“Nobody wants to see five dead people. It’s a very unpleasant scene and we as first responders sometimes get used to a little bit, so to speak, but it is upsetting to see,” Sgt. Joe Heffernan told WNWO after the grisly discovery.

Authorities say Sandy Ford was raising her three grandchildren and her son Andy lived at the home with the family. The three children had been in the Fords’ custody since 2009, away from their parents, Christopher and Mandy Hayes of Sylvania, Ohio. The couple was engaged in a custody battle with the Fords and police believe this may have been the motive. Lucas County Children Services officials told the Toledo Blade they unclear on the specifics of this particular case. Heffernan told the paper he was unaware of any ongoing court proceedings regarding custody, but police had been called to the home twice last week. Once for a domestic violence call and again for what he said was a custody exchange.

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The investigation into the case is ongoing, and it is unclear how the childrens’ uncle, also found dead in the civic, was connected to the suspected conflict between the mother and daughter. Shocked neighbors say there was no clue that anything to this degree might occur.

“Andy did the leaves … and the three kids were al­ways out there with him, drag­ging the tarp, run­ning the lit­tle sucker thing or what­ever,” neighbor Doug Hall told the Blade. “When he was out­side, they were out­side do­ing stuff with him, it didn’t mat­ter what the weather was.”