Depressed North Carolina father kills wife, three children and family dog before turning the gun on himself
The brutal case has left officials describing the case as one of the 'most horrific' they've ever seen
VANCEBORO, NORTH CAROLINA: A mentally ill father shot his wife, their three young children, and their dog dead before turning the gun on himself in a grisly quadruple-murder suicide that has left the small community of Vanceboro shellshocked.
The deaths were confirmed by Craven County Sheriff Chip Hughes in a press conference on Monday, January 27. He said the bodies were discovered after deputies responded to a home on Kinsaw Court outside Vanceboro around noon on Friday. The call was made by a family member who requested a welfare check and reported she had been unable to contact the family since Wednesday evening.
When they reached the scene, they found that all the doors were locked and that there were no signs of forced entry. Cops forced their way into the home after spying a body through a partially-opened curtain.
They found the body of Michael Ireland, 39, in the master bedroom with a gunshot wound to the head and a revolver lying beside him. The body of the family dog, a pit bull, was also found in the same bedroom.
Deputies then found the bodies of his wife April Ireland, 26, and their eight-month-old daughter Caroline, on the living room couch. The bodies of their two sons Michael, 4, and Bryson, 3, were on another couch in the living room. All had single gunshot wounds on their bodies, and there were no signs of struggle associated with any of the deaths.
While police are still looking for a motive in the killings, a GoFundMe page set up by April last August states her husband had been suffering from severe depression and that he had been suicidal.
"My husband Michael Ireland suffered severely from depression among other mental illnesses and was recently injured very badly," she had written. "While it was self-inflicted, he is very sick mentally."
The autopsies on all five bodies were conducted on Sunday and a final result is waiting for further testing. Another GoFundMe page set up by a family friend is looking to collect donations to cover the cost of the family's funeral. It has raised $1,135 of a $15,000 goal at the time of writing.
"It is a very sad time," Hughes said. "To my knowledge, Craven County has never experienced such a senseless loss of innocent lives in modern times. Officers with over 40 years of experience have described this as one of the most horrific crime scenes in their careers."