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Grandmother, uncle plot murder-suicide, 3 kids die

By John Seewer

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 02:46 p.m. HST, Nov 13, 2012

TOLEDO, Ohio >> Caught up in a family disagreement over who should care for three young children, a grandmother and her son barricaded themselves and the kids in a garage and filled it with deadly carbon monoxide gas. All five died.

Police spent Tuesday trying to explain the heartbreaking scene discovered a day earlier at the home of 54-year-old Sandy Ford and her son Andy in a quiet Toledo neighborhood.

Firefighters using a sledgehammer broke down the garage door to find the bodies of 5-year-old Madalyn Hayes, her 6-year-old brother Logan and 10-year-old sister Paige slumped inside a car, along with their grandmother and uncle. Two hoses attached to the exhaust of a pickup truck pumped gas fumes through the car's rear window.

Police said letters inside the house indicated the woman and her son plotted the murder-suicide, beginning by picking up the children from school Monday morning after their mother had dropped them off earlier.

They also had disabled the garage door opener and nailed plywood over the windows, said Toledo police Sgt. Joe Heffernan. He wouldn't say what was in the letters, but it appeared some were written by the children.

"We're trying to figure out all the why's in this," he said.

Authorities were called to the home by the children's frantic grandfather after he discovered the letters and was unable to force open the garage door. Despite the grisly scene, investigators found no signs the children were forced into the car and believe all five died of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Until last week, the children had spent the last three years living with their grandparents, Sandy and Randy Ford, and their uncle at the house in a residential neighborhood close to the Michigan state line.

Their mother, Mandy Hayes, had asked her mom for help caring for the three children because a fourth child at the home was becoming disruptive, said children's services representatives and a family friend.

"She was just being protective," said the friend, Cammie Turner.

While the children were living with their grandparents, their parents saw them almost every day and went on outings to parks and the zoo, Turner said.

"Their kids mean everything to them," she said.

But recently Hayes had decided they should all return home, and the children moved back in with their parents last week, upsetting Hayes' mother, Turner said.

"Mandy wasn't taking the kids away from her entirely," she said. "She wanted them home. It wasn't like she was taking them and grandma could never see them again."

Turner said Hayes had confided that her mother was controlling, but she never seemed alarmed by it.

"It doesn't make sense," she said. "I can't imagine. To have your mom ..."

Police were at the house last week and children services workers met with both sides of the family, most recently on Saturday, said Dean Sparks, executive director of Lucas County Children Services.

"We only know that there were a lot of allegations back and forth," he said, adding that Sandy Ford was worried about placing her grandchildren back in the home with their 9-year-old brother, who had been disruptive in the past.

But the agency had no authority to decide who should keep the children, Sparks said, and the parents had every right to bring them back into their home.

Turner said she never saw any indication of a strained relationship between Hayes and her mother, and they never went to court over the issue of custody.

Family members declined to comment.

Doug Hall, a neighbor who lives across the street, said he often saw the children with their uncle, raking leaves or shoveling snow. He said the only unusual thing he noticed was a police car at the house last Thursday. He said he didn't know why it was there.

Neighbors said the family spent a lot of time together and that the Fords had put in a swimming pool this summer for the children.

Another neighbor said he saw the kids playing in the leaves just a few days ago.

"One minute they're doing the leaves, and then the next there are cop cars all over," Eric Pieper said.


Associated Press writer Kantele Franko in Columbus, Ohio, contributed to this report.

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patk wrote:
Another reason why we need mandatory spaying and neutering for many people. Including most of the execs on Wall Street.
on November 13,2012 | 08:18AM
grantos wrote:
with a comment like that, you're sure to be a candidate for such a procedure
on November 13,2012 | 08:51AM
loquaciousone wrote:
Too late IT's loose already..
on November 13,2012 | 02:23PM
EducatedLocalBoy wrote:
patk you are horribly insensitive to write such nonsense in response to a very tragic situation. It appears that you are not a parent and given your mean spirit you should not be a parent.
on November 14,2012 | 01:11AM
false wrote:
They could have taken their lives if they can't cope. But why the children.
on November 13,2012 | 02:26PM
EducatedLocalBoy wrote:
This sad and extreme situation highlights the problem with the antiquated thought that has been codified in the law that children are chattel (property -- just as slaves were considered chattel prior to the civil war) of the parents. I personally represented for free the grandparents of 3 children who had been placed with them because their daughter, who was an ice addict and an alcoholic who had the children from different men, starved and otherwise neglected the children from birth while she was on her drug and alcohol binges. After she claimed that she was "reformed" -- although the evidence showed that she still abused alcohol, we suspected that she also continued to abuse drugs along with her current boyfriend, according to what the children told us they observed when they would be with the mother and her boyfriend on court ordered visits, she sought to regain custody of the kids so that she could collect welfare benefits for them being in her household. The grandparents didn't get welfare for the children because they were both gainfully employed middle class persons, but like many middle class persons could not afford the services of an attorney for a long and protracted legal battle. The mother had a free lawyer thanks to the misguided "politically correct" thoughts of the Hawaii Legal Aid Society. To even the politically correct score, I represented the grandparents for free. Fortunately, even though the law was against the grandparents, we were able to utilize complicated legal presumptions to prevail. We were also able to prove that the mother's household was unfit for the kids, who viewed the grandparents, rather than their mother and her boyfriend, as their parental figures. We were also lucky because the medical and clinical psychological experts agreed to waive their professional fees to testify. But this case was the exception rather than the rule. The rule is that kids are thrown back into unsafe households because it is "preferred" under Hawaii statute that the parents are the proper "owners" of the children and that grandparents have no legal rights to see to the health and well being of their grandchildren.
on November 13,2012 | 02:35PM
false wrote:
That could happen to adopted children as well. We all need to keep a watchful eye out for children who fall into the hands of irresponsible corrupted people. It just happens. Heaven waits. So sad for these babies. That poor mother and father and grandfather.
on November 13,2012 | 05:03PM
RetiredWorking wrote:
Honorable representation, ELB.
on November 13,2012 | 07:20PM
EducatedLocalBoy wrote:
Thank you RetiredWorking. I'm fortunate to be in the position and age where the tuition burden for my kids have been lifted from my wife and my shoulders because they have all completed their education, that I could represent these decent grandparents for free. It's not their fault that their daughter fell into drug abuse, alcohol abuse and the wrong crowd of people. Substance abuse happens at all levels of society.
on November 14,2012 | 12:50AM
lowtone123 wrote:
Randy, Sandy, Mandy & Andy.
on November 13,2012 | 03:32PM
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