Family members said 40-year-old Darrell Peak had struggled with depression
40 year old Darrell Peak and his two children, 3 year old Mayson Peak and 4 year old Kaiden Peak.
From left, Darrell Peak and sons Mayson Peak and Kaiden Peak
| Credit: Missouri State Highway Patrol/Twitter

A Missouri dad with a history of depression was confirmed dead Monday along with his two boys, ages 3 and 4, after the three were reported missing three days earlier, authorities said.

The father, 40-year-old Darrell Peak, was last seen by family members around 4 p.m. Thursday as he drove away with his sons from the family home in Greene County, in southwest Missouri.

At the time he was "armed with the pistol he was known to regularly carry," according to a news release from the Greene County Sheriff's Office.

Around 5:30 p.m. Thursday a Missouri State Highway Patrol trooper spotted Peak's disabled vehicle in Benton County, about 80 miles away, and stopped to offer help. Peak declined it, authorities said.

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Around 5:52 p.m., a Benton County deputy saw a man and two children walking along a highway. But by the time she turned her vehicle around to make contact with them, she said they were gone and she presumed they'd disappeared into the woods.

Around 7 p.m., a state trooper was dispatched to check on a man seen walking with two children along a highway in the Warsaw area, but the trooper also was unable to find them.

At 10:30 a.m. the next day, family members contacted the Greene County Sheriff's Office to file a missing persons report. They told officers that "Darrell had a history of depression," according to the sheriff's office, but the family members "insisted that he would never harm his children."

That same afternoon, state troopers and Benton County deputies alerted to the missing persons report returned to scour the areas near Warsaw where Darrell and sons Mason, 3, and Kaiden, 4, were spotted the previous evening.

On Monday, the bodies of all three were located inside a structure, not far from where they last were seen. Authorities did not reveal how they died.

Prior to the discovery, detectives "made several attempts to have an AMBER Alert issued but this case has not met the criteria," according to the sheriff's office, which added in a news release, "despite the family's belief that Darrell would not harm his children, on February 28th detectives decided to pursue criminal charges for the arrest of Darrell, hoping that this would generate additional tips and leads."

"It is with much sadness that the Greene County Sheriff's Office announces a very tragic ending to the missing person's investigation involving Darrell, Mayson and Kaiden Peak," the agency posted on its Facebook page.