Authorities say Matthew Edwards fatally shot his wife and kids before turning the gun on himself

By Steve Helling
July 11, 2018 04:14 PM

A young boy who was dropped off at a friend’s home for a sleepover near Wilmington, Delaware, ended up making a horrific discovery.

According to the Washington Post, the boy discovered the dead bodies of Matthew Edwards, 42, and his wife Julie Edwards, 41, along with the couple’s children, ages 6, 4, and 3. (Police have not named the children.) They had all been fatally shot.

Police arrived at the scene and determined that Matthew Edwards’ gunshot wound was self-inflicted. The case is being treated as a murder suicide, PEOPLE confirms.

A neighbor told CBS News that Matthew and Julie seemed like a typical couple who had recently had some issues in their relationship. “He seemed like an average guy,” Wilfredo Rivera, 60, told CBS. “He would come outside with his kids and play … but he told me he was having marital problems.”

Matthew had recently moved out of the family home and relocated to North Carolina, where he had found a job.

Credit: GoFundMe

Brian Covenko, who lives across the street, told the News Journal that he hadn’t spoken to Edwards since Memorial Day but thought of him as a devoted dad.

“Our kids played together,” he told the paper. “We’ve been over to barbecues. Every time he was here, he was playing with his kids. I don’t know what happened inside of doors, but I know he was outside with his kids a lot.”

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The Edwards’ 6-year-old son suffered from Williams syndrome, a developmental disorder. After his diagnosis, Julie became heavily involved with the Williams Syndrome Association, serving as regional director for the association.

Julie had coordinated a conference in Baltimore to be held this week. Brianna Horney, a friend of Julie’s, tells PEOPLE the couple’s relationship had become strained, but they couple nonetheless planned to attend the conference together. Matthew returned to Delaware on Sunday to meet up with his family ahead of the conference.

But instead of attending the conference, police say, Matthew shot and killed his entire family, and then turned the gun on himself. The family’s bodies were transported to the coroner’s office.

A GoFundMe page has been created to cover the cost of the funerals for the Edwards children.

• With reporting by HARRIET SOKMENSUER