The bodies of a 32-year-old woman and her two daughters were found hanged in a hallway of their West Springfield house last night and police are investigating the deaths as a triple suicide, Fairfax County police reported.
Police said Chun Shin and her daughters, Aera Shin, 13, and Jeira Shin, 9, were discovered by a family friend at the house at 7928 Jansen Dr. about 8:30 p.m. The friend notified neighbors who then called police, they said.
Investigators were attempting to locate the husband and father, Sun Shin, in Maryland early this morning, police said, after Sun Shin apparently called police from a motel in Maryland late last night and threatened to harm himself.
Police said they had not been able to locate the motel early this morning and that they had reason to believe that the man had carried out the threat.
The bodies of the mother and daughters were found in an upstairs hallway of the split-level, brick home, police said. They were found hanging from torn sheets that had been suspended from attic rafters through a pull-down stairway opening, sources said.
The victims apparently jumped from the same piano stool, one source said.
Two notes, one from the mother and the other from one of the daughters, were found by police, the source said.
Police spokesman Warren Carmichael said the deaths of Chun Shin and her daughters occurred "almost simultaneously" and that the cause of death was "asphyxiation due to hanging."
Carmichael said Sun Shin reportedly was estranged from the family, and sources said he had left the family house Saturday because of marital problems. They said he returned to the house yesterday to try to reconcile his marital problems. Both notes left by the mother and daugher expressed the unhappiness of the family because of the domestic situation, sources said.
According to police, the man who discovered the bodies, a family friend and employe of an aluminum siding company owned by the family, picked the husband up at the Jansen Drive house about 2 p.m. and drove him to a location in Maryland.
Neighbors said Shin apparently ran the aluminum-siding business out of the Jansen Drive house, and that his wife worked at a barbershop in nearby Springfield Plaza.
"They were very industrious . . . the American dream-type thing," said Denise Heller, who lives down the street. "They were very hard-working people."
Neighbors said Aera Shin attended Washington Irving Junior High School and Jeira Shin went to West Springfield Elementary School.
Michelle Lewis, 15, said her little brother and other neighborhood children played with the Shin children Friday "but my little brother didn't see them at school" Tuesday.