A Missouri father wanted on domestic violence charges following two alleged attacks on his wife killed both of their young sons on Saturday before taking his own life, PEOPLE confirms.
During a news conference Saturday night, Ken Cox, the deputy chief of the St. Louis County Police Department, told reporters the two boys were fatally shot by their father inside Cliff Cave County Park in Oakville, Missouri. As police closed in on him with their guns drawn, Christopher Cadenbach killed himself, Cox said.
“We had a tragic ending this evening in Cliff Cave Park,” Cox told reporters before referencing Cadenbach and the AMBER Alert he triggered by kidnapping his two sons, Ethan, 5, and Owen, 4.
“They are all deceased,” Cox said.
Cox said Cadenbach was aware a warrant had been issued for his arrest following the two alleged domestic violence incidents, which allegedly took place 10 days prior to the murder-suicide. After one of them, Cadenbach’s wife allegedly drove herself to the hospital with neck and back injuries.
Cox said Cadenbach’s wife had recently said she wanted to divorce him after nine years of marriage.
Cox said Cadenbach’s mother reported him to authorities after she, Cadenbach and the two boys spent Saturday in a different park and Cadenbach made statements that alarmed her. According to Cox, Cadenbach talked to his mother “about how he wasn’t going to be taken alive” and also told her he wanted to die via suicide-by-cop, Cox said.
After Cadenbach’s mother reported him, authorities initiated a statewide AMBER Alert.
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Hours later, as rangers were closing Clive Cave County Park for the night, they spotted a car matching the vehicle described in the AMBER Alert, Cox said.
Rangers contacted authorities, and a police helicopter that arrived and was hovering overhead captured footage of a man approaching the car and firing two shots, Cox said.
“He was apparently shooting his children,” Cox said. “Police tried to engage him and he took his own life.”
Cox said it was unclear how many shots were fired as police moved in on Cadenbach. “It was pitch black and they went down there and shots rang out,” Cox said. Both children were dead by the time police reached Cadenbach’s vehicle, he said.
‘He Did this to Hurt Me’
When asked what sparked Saturday’s violence, Cox paused and then said, “Nobody is going to know but him and he’s gone.”
Elisa Sartorius-Cadenbach, the boys’ mother, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch she believes her desire to end the marriage “set him off — knowing that our family dynamic was over and I was seeking a divorce. He kept telling me, ‘No — I’m not going to let you leave me.'”
She told the paper she thinks “he snapped and knew that he was facing a lot of jail time. And he did this to hurt me, and I guess as revenge for me for pressing charges against him. He was trying to get back at me and hurt me the best way he knew how.”
A GoFundMe account has been established to help fund the boys’ funerals.