A mother of five-year-old twins is suspected of killing them before dying by suicide, law enforcement have said.
The children were found dead inside a home in Sanford, Florida on Friday morning soon after their mother reportedly jumped to her death from a bridge, Seminole County Sheriff Dennis Lemma told a news conference.
The woman’s body was recovered and she was identified as 31-year-old Catorreia Hutto. The bodies of Ahmed Jackson and Ava Jackson, aged five, were found at her home during a subsequent wellness check.
Deputies found a gun on the ground near where the twins were found but investigators said they did not find any obvious signs of trauma.
The medical examiner has yet to conduct toxicology tests and determine a cause of death.
“Mom jumps off the bridge, commits obviously what’s now a suicide, and it looks to be a homicide that is contained in this house,” Sheriff Lemma said, according to Fox 5.
Hutto was working for a temp agency doing clerical jobs, and had been seen at work a few days earlier, Mr Lemma said.
The twins, who had special educational needs, had not been at school since October 13, he added.
Hutto’s mother said that her daughter had faced a lifelong battle with depression but there were no obvious signs of a recent decline in her mental health, the sheriff’s office reported.
The family appeared to be struggling financially due to the little food found at the home, said officials.
Hutto had acquired her home through a nonprofit charity, Habitat for Humanity, known for building houses for people who could not otherwise afford them.
“Just wish someone could’ve known, you know?” said Eddie Gray, a neighbor. “Maybe would’ve been able to step in. You see them passing, you just wave and say hello, and you go on. Maybe if she had someone else to talk to, could’ve made a difference.”
“I am absolutely heartbroken, absolutely devastated,” said Latoshia Reynolds, another neighbor.
“As the mother of a 15-year-old, it is really hard. For her to be that distraught, apparently she had no one she felt she could reach out to, it’s just really devastating and shows the state of the world that we’re in right now.”
If you are based in the USA, and you or someone you know needs mental health assistance right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Helpline on 1-800-273-TALK (8255). This is a free, confidential crisis hotline that is available to everyone 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
If you are in the UK and experiencing feelings of distress, or are struggling to cope, you can speak to the Samaritans, in confidence, on 116 123 (UK and ROI), email email@example.com, or visit the Samaritans website to find details of your nearest branch.
If you are in another country, you can go to www.befrienders.org to find a helpline near you.