A Calvert County man killed his wife and 2-year-old daughter before killing himself, authorities said Tuesday. The couple’s 12-year-old son survived the attack but remains hospitalized with burns and cuts.
Frank Hayward Jr., 32, his wife, Cynthia, 32, and their daughter, Natalee, were found dead after sheriff’s deputies responded about 8:30 a.m. Tuesday to an anonymous call about a domestic disturbance in their Owings home, officials said. Fires were burning through the home.
The Haywards’ son, Frank III, suffered severe burns and cuts to his neck, authorities said. He was in serious condition Tuesday. A woman who was at the home, whom authorities identified as Cynthia Hayward’s great-aunt, escaped uninjured.
“We are deeply saddened by this tragic event,” Calvert Sheriff Mike Evans said during a news conference.
Authorities said they were uncertain about a motive in the attacks, but court records in Anne Arundel County depict a troubled life between the Haywards.
The two were married as teens in fall 1999, two weeks before their son was born.
Frank Hayward Jr. was a big man with three tattoos on his arms: barbed wire, a bulldog and Cindy’s name.
In summer 2007, Cynthia Hayward filed for divorce. At the time of the divorce, Frank was working at Stephens Pipe and Steel in Bladensburg, and Cynthia worked at Anne Arundel Diagnostics. They lived in a $349,000 home that was on the market. The proceedings appeared amicable until she sought a protective order that September.
“There has been a lot of mental and physical abuse over the last nine years and threats,” Cynthia wrote in neat, looping letters, asking authorities to keep Frank away.
The previous night, she wrote, Frank had come into her room and put a phone up to her ear with his girlfriend on the line.
“She told me she was going to pull me out of work and beat me up,” Cynthia wrote.
Frank III was in Cynthia’s room, and she tried to get him out of it and away from the altercation when either he or her husband — the court filing is not clear — was hit hard enough by the door to leave a mark.
In the complaint, she catalogued what she said had been a series of violent abuses by Frank. Between June and September, he had hit her in the jaw, struck her with pool cue, thrown a bottle of liquid on her, and hidden her home telephone and broken her cellphone so that she couldn’t call for help, the complaint says.
“I want to return home. Right now at mother’s,” she wrote. She also noted that her husband owned a firearm. Anne Arundel authorities served him with the protective order and confiscated a handgun, according to court records.
The protective order, however, was never finalized. Two days later, in a separate court proceeding, the Haywards’ voluntary separation was finalized as a limited divorce, with the two sharing custody almost equally of their son.
Less than a week later, when she could have sought to finalize the protective order, Cynthia stood before a judge and declined.
She told Circuit Court Judge Ronald Silkworth that the two instead wanted to go to counseling.
The couple received a judgment of limited divorce Sept. 12, 2007, after a voluntary separation, court documents show. The decree says the Haywards received joint custody of their son and agreed to forgo alimony. Unlike an absolute divorce, which marks the final dissolution of a marriage, a limited divorce is incomplete and means that the couple has agreed on financial, residential and custody matters but that the mandatory one-year separation period is not complete.
Evans said authorities visited the home in May after receiving an anonymous call urging them to check on Cynthia Hayward and her children but found no evidence that they were in any immediate danger.
The family’s home in Calvert has a brick facade and maroon shutters. Houses in the neighborhood are separated by large yards. When police and firefighters arrived Tuesday morning, they found a fire burning in a bedroom and signs of several others around the house, Evans said.
Authorities said they found a gun in the house, but many circumstances of the killings were still unclear late Tuesday.
Patrick Davis, 41, who lives in the neighborhood, said the Haywards moved in a few years ago. He said Frank Hayward III, or “Little Frank” as he called him, was outgoing and friendly and was often seen playing with other children.
“You never fathom that this would happen in your own neighborhood,” Davis said.