Four members of a Central California family have been found dead inside of their home. Police believe the deaths to be a result of a murder-suicide.
The bodies were discovered in a home in Turlock, California, at approximately 10 p.m. on Thursday night. Police received a call after a concerned female family member, who had not heard from or seen the Babakhan family in some time, went to the home in the 3000 block of Red Oak Court. Police spokeswoman Mayra Lewis identified the victims as the 78-year-old patriarch of the family, Sarkis Babakhan, his wife, Rozmary, 70, and their two sons, 39 and 42. The youngest son has been identified as Rodney Bowman, previously known as Radni Babakhan. It is reported that the 42-year-old son had Down syndrome and the family of four lived in the home together. Lewis reported that the bodies were discovered throughout the home.
An initial investigation reveals that the deaths were a result of a murder-suicide, but details regarding the manners in which the four died are not known. Police believe that the deaths occurred at least 24 hours before the bodies were discovered due to the fact that decomposition of the corpses had already begun. California police have not disclosed which of the family members was responsible for the murder-suicide, but have eliminated Rozmary Babakhan as a suspect. Once autopsy results are final, more details concerning the crime will be available, including the possible motive and causes of death.
According to the Modesto Bee, investigators processing the scene on Friday smelled gas in the home and wore gas masks for protection. Lewis confirmed that firefighters were also present at the scene due to a possible arson attempt, as police believe that the murderer may have attempted to start fire to the home before killing himself, possibly in an attempt to cover up the crime. Multiple areas of the home had been set on fire.
Neighbors were shocked to learn of the murder-suicide and related memories of the family engaging in normal activities, such as walking around the neighborhood or working in their garden. Radni Babakhan was often seen in the front yard smoking cigarettes. Neighbors believe that the woman who discovered the bodies and called police was the same woman frequently seen walking with Rozmary Babakhan. They recall the disabled son being picked up by a van for various appointments and activities.
The now-deceased family was remembered as caring and concerned about their neighbors, who report having seen no indication that anything was amiss in the home. Neighbor Norma Barajas told CBS that while her husband was in Afghanistan last year, the Babakhan family “were always offering to help me.” Barajas added that Sarkis Babakhan had only recently retired, had attended her yard sale last weekend and that “everything was normal.” She also conveyed that she never heard any arguing emanating from the home to indicate any sort of trouble within.
This is not the first time that the neighborhood has seen tragedy such as this. In 2011, a man was shot by his former partner in front of their son, who was only 8, while they were meeting to exchange custody. The shooting took place approximately one block from the Babakhan home.
Police have assured the Central California community that there is no public danger resulting from the murder-suicide that killed four members of the Babakhan family.
By Jennifer Pfalz