Family found dead in Van Buren after man dies in Indiana wreck - KMSP-TV

Family found dead in Van Buren after man dies in Indiana wreck

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Linda Vanderlinden Linda Vanderlinden
The Vanderlinden home in Van Buren Township  (Credit: WJBK | myFOXDetroit.com) The Vanderlinden home in Van Buren Township (Credit: WJBK | myFOXDetroit.com)
VAN BUREN TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WJBK) -

Two men are dead after a fiery crash Thursday morning near Michigan City, Indiana.  Hundreds of miles away in Van Buren Township the bodies of a mother and her two small children were found lying in their beds.

"34 years old and also two children, one being seven years old and the other four years old.  They were all in separate bedrooms and they were all deceased," said Van Buren Township Police Captain Greg Laurain.

Police tell us Linda Vanderlinden and her two young sons were murdered inside their home, and we have learned there is a connection between these two tragedies.  However, getting all the answers will not be easy because 39-year-old Michael Vanderlinden was one of the two men killed in that collision in Indiana and he is also the husband and father of the deceased.

"I don't know if he's part of this or not, but nothing else.  We have no other suspects right now.  Nothing that's showing us that there was a robbery there.  There was no forced entry there, and we have no other indication from anybody coming forward saying that [anybody] would want to kill her or the family or harm the family whatsoever."

Van Buren Township police discovered the victims in the home when they went to notify family members of Michael's death.  It was neighbors who told officers that it was very unusual for no one to answer the door.

"Officers checked some more doors.  The found that the front door was ajar."

That is when they made the discovery none of them will ever forget.

"What I heard was that he killed his wife and the two boys," said neighbor John Jones.

"There [are] a lot of assumptions and accusations that he could be the killer," Laurain said.  "We're not considering him a suspect, but obviously he's somebody that we're really looking at very closely.  He's a person of interest to us, and our question is where was he going.  Neighbors said he left last night around 9:30 p.m.  We don't know where he went.  Some people said he was fleeing the crime.  We don't know that either.  We may never know."

Sources have said the murder weapon, a knife, was recovered inside the home.  Computers and other electronics were removed from the residence to be reviewed by detectives hoping to find any kind of clues in this case.

"The crash that occurred in Indiana was so severe that from the authorities there, there was very little physical evidence inside the vehicle."

45-year-old Juan Nelson of Portage, Indiana, the driver of the car that was struck, also lost his life Thursday.

Police say Vanderlinden was leaving a rest area.  A witnesses came forward.

"That saw him going the wrong way down the freeway that caused this accident.  Whether that was done intentionally or by accident we may never know.  We were hoping for maybe to find something, maybe a letter, a note, maybe some physical evidence on his person to link him with the crime scene.  We don't know if that's going to happen or not right now."

Had there been problems in the past?  Could Michael Vanderlinden have killed his family and then himself?

"He had ... some mental issues.  He tried to kill himself before," Jones said.

"The victim made a comment that her husband was abusive to her, but never really went into detail whether it was physical or just verbal," said Laurain.

In november of 2011, "She commented that she was going to leave the residence.  He was emotional at that time, didn't want her to leave.  He grabbed her by the arms and shook her and pleaded with her not to leave and she still left.  She returned a short time later to find him in his bedroom crying hysterically and making comments that he took some sleeping pills along with alcohol."

In that case under the Domestic Violence Act, officers are obligated to submit a warrant to the prosecutor's office, but it was denied the next day because of insufficient evidence.

Police have told us that they will be able to provide more information on the cause of death of the mother and two sons on Friday.

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