After fretting on a GoFundMe post about mounting financial pressures and what she described as her family’s struggles with mental illness, a North Dakota mom was found fatally shot along with her three children Thursday in the family’s Grand Forks home.
Police found a handgun at the scene and are not seeking any additional suspects.
“We’re trying to determine not only what exactly happened but, to the best of our ability, why it happened, ensuring the safety and mental and emotional health of all who might be impacted by this,” Police Lt. Derik Zimmel said in a news conference outside the home Thursday night, reports the West Fargo Pioneer. “We have a lot of work ahead of us.”
Authorities identified the victims as Astra Volk, 35, and her children Tyler Talmage, 14; Aidan Talmage, 10; and Arriana Talmage, 6. All were dead from gunshot wounds.
Police say administrators at Lewis and Clark Elementary School alerted a campus security officer on Thursday morning to request a welfare check at the home of two absent students.
After arriving at the home, the officer observed what appeared to be a body inside and forced entry, finding three additional bodies, according to a news release from the department.
Grand Forks Public Schools confirmed the discovery in a statement, reports Fargo TV station KVLY.
In a GoFundMe appeal posted about a week earlier, Volk sought help with “living expenses due to medical bills.” She wrote that she and her two sons “suffer from mental illness, bi-polar, manic depression, autism” and that each had been “hospitalized for this.”
Her post continued: “I work full time but my wages have recently been garnished for medical bills. I’m looking for help with 1 month’s bills to help get on our feet and look for a second job. I am trying to stay positive so I do not end up back in the hospital.”
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The fundraising page has since been taken down. Volk’s Facebook page listed her occupation as bagging technician at Cirrus Aircraft, and said she was single.
Records in Grand Forks County court showed that Volk had been in civil court three times last year and faced judgments against her totaling $3,750, the Star-Tribune reports.
Zimmel declined to share further details about the scene inside the home until the investigation is complete.
“I think any time that you have a scene where children are dead, it’s a horrific scene,” he told the media. “The condition of the house and anything related to that really doesn’t matter. … It’s a great tragedy, and I think we’re all going to be affected by it.”