LAKE IN THE HILLS, Ill. (WLS) --A woman and her two young children were found dead in an apparent murder-suicide in northwest suburban Lake in the Hills, the McHenry County Coroner's Office said Wednesday.
The deceased were identified as Carla M. Lopez-Mejia, 27; son Ezequiel Garcia, 11; and daughter Ariana Garcia, 8, according to the coroner's office.
"The kids just seemed happy, so you assume it's a happy family," said neighbor Araceli Welsh.
The bodies were found at about 3 p.m. Tuesday when emergency crews responded to a call about an unresponsive person in a townhome in the 2300-block of Daybreak Drive. Firefighters broke down the front door and found three people dead inside the house.
Lopez-Mejia died of asphyxia due to ligature hanging, and the children died of asphyxia due to ligature strangulation, according to preliminary findings released Wednesday afternoon by the coroner's office.
"My little one knows something bad happened. The street was taken over by cops and emergency vehicles and all she knows is something bad happened," said neighbor Jennifer Goodrich, whose daughter played with the two children.
Ezeqiuel was a sixth grader at Marlowe Middle School. Ariana was a third grader at Martin Elementary School.
Huntley Community School District 158 Superintendent John Burkey released a statement Wednesday offering condolences to everyone affected by the tragedy. He said counselors and other bereavement support services will be made available for students and staff in the district.
"Students will respond to this tragedy in different ways, and it is important for both schools and families to support them. Any reaction is normal in the grieving process and can range from withdrawal to crying to anger. It's important for us as adults to listen carefully to our children and help them through their reactions and feelings regarding this tragedy. If children are struggling with this news, or if families are seeking guidance on how to discuss this loss with your child, please call your school to be put in touch with the appropriate resources," Burkey said.
Janaya Simmons, another neighbor, described Lopez-Mejia as a quiet woman. She said Lopez-Mejia had a husband, but she listed herself as single on her Facebook page.
"Well, she didn't talk to anybody much. She didn't speak. My husband used to speak to her all the time. She never would speak. But her children and husband were very friendly," Simmons said.