NorthwestOhio was stunned Monday to learn that five West Toledo family members, three of them children aged 10 or under, had succumbed to carbon-monoxide poisoning in what authorities believe was a murder-suicide.
The children — Paige Hayes, 10; Logan Hayes, 7, and Madalyn Hayes, 5 — were under the care of a grandmother, Sandy Ford, 56, who died with them in an enclosed garage along Harvest Lane with a son, Andy Ford, 32, and the family’s two dogs and cat. Notes were left behind.
The children’s parents, Christopher Hayes, 38, and Mandy Hayes, 35, of Sylvania, last week asked authorities for help in getting their children back three years after they had placed them in the Fords’ custody in 2009. Ms. Hayes had asked the children’s grandmother to care for them because a fourth child at the home was becoming disruptive.
As is often the case, this arrangement did not involve the court system and was worked out by the family members, probably with some assistance from county social workers. Except for the outcome, the case was not unusual.
Police have speculated that Ms. Ford and her son killed themselves and the three children — her grandchildren and his nieces and nephew — to prevent the children’s parents from regaining custody.
Children at Whiteford Elementary — where Paige was a fifth grader, Logan was a second grader, and Madalyn was a kindergartner — are devastated, as are other friends and neighbors. Employees of Lucas County Children Services second-guess themselves, though they had little contact with the family until recently.
“It really takes a piece of the heart of our community out with us,” said Dean Sparks, the agency’s executive director.
In the wake of tragedy, it’s natural for people to seek answers. Questions need to be asked, including whether mental illness was involved. So far, however, there are no good answers for a stunned community, only grief.