Police are investigating a possible murder-suicide after a Phoenix woman and her two children were found dead inside their home.
The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office received a call on July 25 from a local resident who reported seeing a running car with a hose running from the exhaust pipe and into the window of a two-story home, AZCentral reported.
When authorities arrived at the carbon monoxide-filled home, they found the bodies of Lisa Gerhart, 45, and her two children -- 17-year-old Kyle and 12-year-old Emily. A handgun was found near Gerhart’s body, the Daily Mail reported. It is believed Gerhart shot her children before shooting herself.
"It's a sad situation. Domestic violence is something we have to look into ... It's a big problem facing our county and our country,” Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio told the Arizona Republic. “Many of our deputies, including myself, are married and have children. But we have a job to do; I don’t know if you ever get used to it, but here we’re talking about a 12-year-old and a 17-year-old. Every life is precious, whether you’re 84, or you’re 12 or 2."
The children's bodies were found upstairs, while Gerhart’s body was found in another part of the home.
"We're looking at other aspects to make sure we get the correct evidence and conclusion to this sad situation," Arpaio added. “We’re leaving that little part open just in case someone else could have caused these three deaths. But I think we’re pretty confident it was a murder-suicide.”
Investigators are also looking into whether carbon monoxide was being pumped into the home before the shooting. The motive for the killings is unknown at this time and authorities are waiting for autopsy results.
“Right now, we don’t know why, we can just surmise,” Arpaio said. “We can’t talk to the mother or the two kids; they’re deceased. So we can only speculate why ... it’s very unusual for this type of situation.”
Gerhart’s neighbor, Connie Rivere, told the news station Gerhart was “devastated” recently when her husband left.
“She was talking to everyone, trying to get people to know she was having problems and that he left her,” Rivere explained. “No matter how we talked to her, we thought she would be better off without him.”
“It’s horrible ... She didn’t want to live through that,” Rivere. “There wasn’t anything anybody could do for her."
Rivere told AZCentral the couple had another child, about 5 or 6 years old, but there has been no police statement about another child.