MERCED, Calif. -- A retired sheriff's deputy shot and killed his 5-year-old daughter and his three stepchildren Tuesday while his ex-wife was out for a walk, then committed suicide with the body of one of the youngsters in his arms.
John Hogan, 49, had apparently entered the house after his ex-wife had set out on her morning walk, authorities said.
The motive was unclear, Merced County sheriff's Cmdr. Mark Pazin said
"Nobody could ever foresee something like this," Pazin said. "I can't put it into words. It's horrifying."
Hogan was found dead in the bed in the master bedroom, the body of 5-year-old Michelle Hogan in his arms.
Christine McFadden returned from her walk shortly after 7 a.m. and found her 17-year-old daughter dead in the hallway outside her bedroom, said sheriff's Sgt. Tom Cavallero.
McFadden went to a neighbor's house in the well-to-do neighborhood to call police, then returned home with deputies and found the three other children and Hogan in separate bedrooms, all shot to death.
"It looks like they had been sleeping," Cavallero said of the children.
Hogan served as a deputy from 1983 to 1993 before retiring for undisclosed medical reasons, the sheriff's department said.
The three older children were identified as Melanie Willis, 17; Stanley Willis, 15, and Stuart Willis, 14.