Three apparent murder-suicides in the San Diego area share surprising similarities to one another. This tragic string of occurrences also poses troubling questions about the events and the circumstances leading up to them.
On Tuesday, Thomas Fuchs and his two teenage sons were found shot to death inside their home in the San Diego suburb known as Chula Vista. Investigators reported finding multiple suicide notes inside of the house. When police arrived on the scene at approximately 1:30 a.m. the home was on fire. Though the father is considered the primary suspect in the three deaths, police have yet to reveal why suicide notes were left inside of a house that seemed intended to burn down.
Investigators admit they do not know how the fire started and have set up a joint investigation with the Chula Vista police, fire, and crime lab investigators to uncover the source of the fire. Additionally, the police would like to know if the fire was set to conceal evidence or cover up the deaths.
The alleged murder-suicide of the Fuchs family came as a shock to those who knew the father and his sons. A neighbor reported that the man and his boys were known to be close. The three were often seen spending time together. The neighbor had observed them playing basketball on Monday afternoon.
The San Diego area has experienced two other similar events in the past month. On May 24th, a family of four was found dead on their family property. The father, Alfredo Pimienta, and his two daughters were discovered in the swimming pool. Georgina, the mother, was located in the bathroom inside the home. Suicide notes were uncovered inside the home containing writings from both parents. The notes indicated the family was experiencing financial problems; however, neighbors and friends of the family were stunned by the deaths.
Toxicology testing was conducted on the family members, but the results of the tests have not been released to the public.
On May 31st, Mary Alvares and her two children were found dead inside their home in San Diego as well. The family was found after a man's body was located in a ravine below a freeway. The man's death has been ruled a suicide. The police attempted to make contact with the co-registrant on the man's vehicle and discovered Mary, her 12 year old daughter Angelica, and her 11 year old son Hamid. The mother and daughter were strangled and bludgeoned, according to autopsy reports released by the county Medical Examiner. The son did not demonstrate any signs of blunt force trauma.
All three incidents have been classified as murder-suicides, though each present a number of distinct and difficult questions. The occurrence of these murder-suicides in such close proximity, within such a short period of time, is alarming. Further investigation into the circumstances surrounding these events will likely yield more information about these three cases in the coming months.