updated 5/25/2006 3:18:05 PM ET 2006-05-25T19:18:05

A man standing trial on sexual assault charges apparently killed his wife, their two children and himself hours before he was to testify Thursday, authorities said.

The bodies of Scott McCarter, 40, his wife, Wendy, 35, their 12-year-old son and 7-year-old daughter were discovered by a friend who went to check on McCarter when he didn’t appear in court Thursday morning.

They were shot with a long-barreled rifle or shotgun, police Chief R.J. Harvey said.

Harvey said although the shootings appeared to be a murder-suicide, an investigation was under way to confirm how the four died.

There were no signs of forced entry or a struggle, and Harvey said neighbors had no reason to fear a suspect was at large. The weapon was found in the house, but he would not say whether it was found next to McCarter’s body. No suicide note was found.

McCarter was accused of molesting two teenage girls between 2001 and 2004. He had denied the charges, telling investigators in a tape-recorded interview played in court Wednesday that he offered the girls advice on hygiene and sexual matters and that any physical contact he had with them was accidental.

“This is a tragedy to the entire family,” said Jeffrey Hark, McCarter’s lawyer in the case. “It’s a tragedy all the way around. It’s a very hard day. My family extends our heartfelt condolences to everybody involved.”

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