A man has shot and killed his partner and two school-age daughters as they packed their bags to leave him before turning the gun on himself.
Police found the bodies of Cindy Clouse, 35, and her children, Autumn Hagger, 13, and 10-year-old Mackenzie Hagger, inside their family home in Lee Township, Michigan on January 7. Murder-suicide suspect Roger Kyle Hagger's body was also discovered nearby in the house.
A concerned relative called police after he had not heard from Ms Clouse for 24 hours and decided to go to the property to check on her. Through a bedroom window, he had spotted one of the young girls motionless.
"My understanding is she reached out to a co-worker or friend to advise them she was looking to leave the relationship and to get her and the children out," Allegan County Sheriff Frank Baker told local media. He added that there was evidence Ms Clouse had been packing to leave when the shootings occurred.
"That may have been what sparked this tragic event," Sheriff Baker said.
Detectives told FOX 17 that the couple had been in a long-term relationship, however close friends revealed they had recently been having problems.
Ms Clouse's devastated sister Amy described Hagger, 34, as "controlling". Despite that, she told local media loved ones "never expected him to be capable of hurting" his partner or their girls.
"There was a side to him we didn't know. If we did know, we would have helped her leave," she added.
Amy said her sister had worked at a nursing home and enjoyed taking care of her animals. Autumn, she said, had dreamed of being a dermatologist.
Fennville Public Schools Superintendent Jim Greydanus described the girls as "kind, responsible, friendly, smiling, always doing the right thing, and truly remarkable students".
Amy has since launched an online fundraiser to raise money to pay for their funerals. At the time of writing, it had raised A$37,857. "My name Amy Clouse, I'm Cindy's older sister and best friend, her babies were my babies as they were to all the rest of our close family," she wrote.
"Yesterday [7th January] all 3 of them were tragically taken away from us. We are asking for help to lay these beautiful angels to rest. They deserved the world but we can't give them that. But with help we can say goodbye the right way."
National domestic violence helpline can be contacted on 1800 737 732 or 1800RESPECT. In an emergency call triple-zero.
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