Police are investigating an apparent double murder-suicide that left a 2-year-old boy alone for at least two days before family members found him in the apartment.
Bianca Knauf, 23, had not returned any of her family’s phone calls or text messages since New Year’s Eve. Her family grew suspicious and decided to go visit her at her apartment in Palm Springs, California on Jan. 4.
They rang the doorbell but no one answered. They spotted the couple’s 2-year-old son, Jacob, sleeping inside the apartment. They managed to wake him up and got him to open the door.
“I went outside and I just burst into tears in my car,” Diana Benitez, Bianca’s sister, told KESQ News.
Upon entering the home, the family found Bianca and her husband, Daniel Knauf, dead on the floor with what appeared to be gunshot wounds. They also found Daniel’s mother, Sally, who was also shot.
“(Jacob’s) hands were shaking, he had blisters around him because his diaper wasn’t changed for a couple of days,” Bianca said, adding that the boy “smelled of the bodies.”
Police believe Daniel, a 27-year-old discharged U.S. Marine, shot his wife and his mother before killing himself. They believe the incident occurred at least two days before the bodies were found.
The family informed police that Daniel had recently been purchasing guns to shoot at nearby Big Bear Lake, California and Bianca’s mother was not pleased about it.
“My daughter was my mind, my everything," she said. "I don’t know how to start over.”
Despite the tragic events, the Benitez family said it holds no grudge against Daniel, who served at the nearby Twentynine Palms base. The family's focus is on the 2-year-old who Diana said, “thinks his mom’s asleep.”
“His mom’s sleeping,” Diana added. “That’s how we keep it.”
Police are investigating the motive behind the crime.