Ohio Murder-Suicide Update: Slain children's mother wanted custody back from grandmother

A lone teddy bear sits on the steps of the home in Toledo, Ohio, Tuesday Nov. 13, 2012. Three children, their uncle, and their grandmother were found dead inside the garage at the house Monday in what appears to be a murder-suicide amid a custody dispute.
AP Photo/Rick Osentoski
The home in Toledo, Ohio, where three children, their uncle, and their grandmother were found dead inside a garage.
AP Photo/Rick Osentoski

(CBS/AP) TOLEDO, Ohio - Mandy Hayes, the mother of three children who died in a murder-suicide apparently orchestrated by their grandmother and uncle, counted on her mother to care for her kids. Hayes gave the children to her mother three years ago after another son had become too much to handle.

When Hayes decided it was safe to bring the children back home in recent weeks, 54-year-old Sandy Ford snapped, killing her three young grandchildren and herself with the help of her 32-year-old son, who also died, police said.

Letters left behind indicate that Ford and her son barricaded the garage in their Toledo home and running hoses from the exhaust of his pickup truck into the rear window of a car where all five were found dead, police said.

Investigators hope the results from autopsies being completed Wednesday will give them more answers about what happened. A funeral for the children was set for Monday in Toledo, with visitation this weekend.

The family disagreement over where the children should live erupted in the past week, with police and children service workers being asked to intervene. Both said there was never any indication that the dispute would end in tragedy.

Firefighters found the bodies of 5-year-old Madalyn Hayes, her 6-year-old brother Logan and 10-year-old sister Paige slumped inside a car, along with their grandmother and uncle.

Police said letters inside the house indicate the woman and her son picked up the children from school Monday morning after their mother had dropped them off earlier.

Toledo police Sgt. Joe Heffernan wouldn't say what was in the letters, but it appeared some were written by the children.

Authorities were called to the home by the children's grandfather after he discovered the letters and was unable to force open the garage door. Investigators found no signs that the children were forced into the car and believe all five died of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Until last week, the children had spent the past three years living with their grandparents, Sandy and Randy Ford, after Mandy Hayes asked her mom for help because a fourth child was having significant behavior problems, said children's services representatives.

More on CrimesiderNovember 13, 2012 - Ohio Murder-Suicide: Grandmother behind deaths of five people, police sayNovember 13, 2012 - Five people dead from carbon monoxide poisoning in apparent murder-suicide, Ohio police say