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Mother kills son, daughter in murder-suicide after husband leaves her

PHOENIX (AP) – Neighbors of a woman found dead in her home with her 17-year-old son and 12-year-old daughter said she was distraught because her husband had left her.

Lisa Gerhart was crying on Saturday because her husband was gone, neighbor Judy Peaton told KNXV-TV.

“I just can’t believe it, I mean, she was a loving mother, she was crazy about her children.”

Gerhart was devastated and horrified that her husband had moved out, neighbor Connie Rivere told the Arizona Republic.

“She was talking to everyone, trying to get people to know she was having problems and that he left her,” Rivere said.

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio said the case was being investigated as a murder-suicide after deputies found a handgun near Gerhart’s body.

The children had gunshot wounds, but Arpaio said it will be up to medical examiners to determine if they died from carbon monoxide fumes carried by a hose from a car to the house.

“We’re almost sure this is a murder-suicide, but we haven’t closed the case,” the sheriff said Tuesday. “We’re leaving a little part open just in case someone else could have caused these three deaths.”

Arpaio said a neighbor reported seeing a car backed up to the two-story, A-framed home in an unincorporated area of Gilbert, east of Phoenix.

Arriving detectives found the two children upstairs and the mother’s body in another undisclosed area.

Authorities have contacted the children’s father and investigators were interviewing neighbors and checking records to see if the couple had any history of domestic violence.