On Monday, 40-year-old Alvaro Camara was found dead in his California home after he killed in his two young children in an apparent murder-suicide, according to police. The three died sometime around Father’s Day on Sunday, authorities said.
Here are five things to know about the case
1. Camara and His Wife Had Custody Issues
Camara and his estranged wife, Connie Camara, were embroiled in a bitter custody battle over the couple’s two children, PEOPLE confirms. The couple had been together for about eight years before filing for divorce a few months ago,
After the killings, Lt. John Cregan with the Santa Rosa, California, police spoke to reporters and said that the department’s “preliminary investigation shows they [Alvaro and Connie] did have a volatile arrangement following their separation.”
“There have been heated verbal exchanges that we’re aware of,” Cregan said. However, an exact motive has not been determined.
An exact motive for the killings has not been determined as of yet.
2. Police Found the Bodies After Kids Weren’t Returned to Mom
According to a statement Santa Rosa police, officers were dispatched to Alvaro’s home on Monday morning — several hours after he failed to drop off his two kids, 6-year-old daughter Juliana Camara and her 18-month-old brother, Julian Camara, with their mother.
Cops used a ladder to access an open bathroom window and crawled inside.
A short time later, they found the lifeless children in the master bedroom next to their dead father, who was hanging from a rope. Officials are still trying to determine the manner in which the two children were killed.
The killings happened sometime between Sunday afternoon and Monday morning, police said.
3. Mom ‘Struggling to Make Sense’ of Children’s Deaths
In a statement issued Tuesday evening and signed “a mother no longer able to hold her children,” Connie Camara wrote that she has been “fighting back the tears and struggling to make sense of this horrific situation.”
She wrote that she had “sought help on numerous occasions and said many, many, many times my children were in danger in their father’s care and I didn’t receive the urgent help I needed to save them.”
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“As I hear updates and stories coming out in regards to my children’s identity and pictures of them without my knowledge, I am visibly distraught and upset,” her statement read.
“They are my precious innocent children that were beyond loved by their family, friends and community,” it continued. “I know I am not the only person that is or has gone through this horrific unimaginable situation, so please help me spread stories like this to raise awareness that is much needed to help prevent anything like this happening to another family.”
Messages left for her were not returned Thursday.
4. Neighbor: Dad Seemed ‘a Little Anxious the Past Couple of Days’
Neighbors who were interviewed by ABC7 said that until his murder-suicide, Camara came across as a loving father.
“They’re really super sweet kids, and he seemed like a really good father,” neighbor Carrie Buchholz told the station. “He was always playing with them, riding his bike out here with them.”
However, Buchholz told KTVU, “We’ve just noticed he was a little anxious the past couple of days,” adding, “and the police have been here off and on but he was always really good with the kids.”
5. Dad’s Sister: I Wish He Had Sought Help
Alvaro’s sister, Jessica Espada, spoke with local TV station KRON about her brother’s “horrible” actions, saying she could not wrap her head around the killings.
“I just wish he would have [sought] some help or just came to us or something,” Espada said. “I just wish he would have done something to prevent all of this.” (Alvaro’s relatives were unavailable for comment to PEOPLE.)
Espada claimed her brother “loved those children very, very, very much” and noted that the way he sometimes “looked at his children, it was a love that was unexplainable.”