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Mitch Murch Hears Gunshot While Reading, Finds Wife, Children Shot To Death

First Posted: 07/31/12 08:22 AM ET Updated: 08/01/12 02:04 PM ET

GLENDALE, Mo. -- Police said a man was reading in his suburban St. Louis home when he heard a gunshot Monday, then found his wife and two children dead in other rooms of their house in what authorities suspect was a murder-suicide.

Officers were called to the large house in the western suburb of Glendale after the man found the bodies of his wife, 11-year-old son and 9-year-old daughter. He called 911 shortly before 11 a.m., and police found each of the victims had gunshot wounds.

Investigators believe the woman shot the children before turning the gun on herself, Glendale police Sgt. Bob Catlett told The Associated Press. Her husband is being questioned but isn't being called a suspect.

None of their names has been released.

UPDATE From The Huffington Post: Other media sources have identified the man as Mitch Murch II, his wife as Catherine Murch, their son as Mitchell Murch, and their daughter as Mary Claire Murch.

The husband thought the gunfire was "coming from outside, so he ran to his front door and saw that his wife was lying in the kitchen, his son was laying in a side room and his daughter was in the second story of the home," Catlett told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Yellow crime tape cordoned off the family's home, a two-story brick house typical of the affluent neighborhood about 10 miles west of St. Louis. Several people passing by the house wiped away tears as they declined comment to the AP. One neighbor who declined to give her full name said the parents were devoted to their children and church, and that the mother never showed hints of mental illness.

The deaths triggered activation of the St. Louis-area Major Case Squad, but authorities said the killings were being investigated as a murder-suicide.

"Certainly that's how it was reported to us and that's how we're investigating it," said Lt. Tim Fagan, who leads the squad.