GARFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — A woman found dead in a northern Michigan house with her husband and two young children is suspected of killing them and fatally stabbing herself, authorities said Monday.
Tamisha Mendenhall, 34, suffered a self-inflicted, fatal stab wound in the groin that pierced her femoral artery, Michigan State Police said in a news release Monday.
The exact cause of death is pending for her husband, Jeffrey Allan Mendenhall, 54; 6-year-old Thomas; and 3-year-old Olivia, said Sgt. Scott Bates.
Authorities say the deaths appear to be a “homicide-suicide” and that Tamisha Mendenhall was the last person alive in their Garfield Township home.
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Troopers found their bodies Thursday. They likely died two days earlier.
It’s not clear if Tamisha Mendenhall acted alone in the deaths, state police Lt. Kip Belcher told The Grand Rapids Press Monday.
Belcher said a note was found that “mentioned the children were innocent.” The note was believed to have been written by Jeffrey Mendenhall.
“There’s absolutely no conclusion at this point that the mother was the sole responsible individual for committing the homicides of the two young children,” Belcher told the newspaper. “We certainly cannot eliminate Jeff as being a participant.”
He told the Traverse City Record-Eagle: “What we do not know is whether Jeffrey Mendenhall or the two young children expired first. We do not know in what order that took place. Neither do we know at this point in time which parent, or whether both parents were responsible for the death of the children.”
Preliminary autopsy results showed no signs of physical injury to the father and children. Empty prescription medication bottles were found in the house and a helium tank in the children’s room, police said in a release.
Medications listed on the bottles contained Benzodiazepine, which police said generally is prescribed to treat anxiety and induce sleep.
“Some of the prescription medication capsules had been opened,” police said. “White residue was discovered on a couple small medical cups.”
Officers also found empty trash bags, vinyl tubing and the helium tank’s valve in a kitchen trash container. The valve had been modified with tape to attach it to the vinyl tubing.
Jeffrey Mendenhall’s body was on a hallway floor. His head was on a pillow in the doorway where the bodies of their children were found. He also was holding flowers.
Tamisha Mendenhall’s body was found a few feet away.