Video: Man, 4 kids found dead in Maryland house

updated 3/27/2007 9:40:10 AM ET 2007-03-27T13:40:10

A man and his four young children were found dead Monday in a townhouse, authorities said.

Pedro Rodriguez, 28, was found hanging by a nylon rope from a second-floor banister, said Lt. Thomas Chase. The children — girls ages 9, 4 and 1, and a 3-year-old boy — were found in bed under the covers, Chase said.

Police were looking for the mother, Daysi M. Benitez, 25, who neighbors said also lived at the home.

Chase said Benitez had not shown up for work at a local restaurant for a week and a half. “The mom’s being sought so we can verify her welfare and find out what she can tell us,” Chase said.

Chase said police do not have any suspects in the deaths of the children. When asked if they believe the father was suspected, he said that was a theory they were pursuing.

“You’ve got four dead people, and a guy that hung himself. That leads you to one possibility,” he said.

The bodies were discovered after a Hillcrest Elementary School community liaison concerned about some of the children called police, authorities said. Officers entered through an unlocked ground-floor window Monday afternoon and found the bodies in different rooms of the three-bedroom home.

'Neighborhood is shocked'
Jose Lopez, 34, said he rented a room there for two months a year and a half ago. When he lived with them, the couple seemed happy, he said.

Real estate records show Rodriguez and Benitez bought the home in August 2005 for $195,900.

The family had emigrated from El Salvador to the United States, police said.

Autopsies on the father and the children were to be performed Tuesday in Baltimore.

Police had been called there three or four times in the past six months, neighbor Nathaniel Harris said.

“Everyone in the neighborhood is shocked,” Harris said. “This is a nice area.”

Another neighbor, Rebecca Reckley, said the father worked at the Toys R Us warehouse in Frederick and the mother worked at Outback Steakhouse. The mother worked nights and the father worked days, she said.

“He just seemed like an awfully nice man,” she said. “He just seemed to really care about his children, so you can’t fathom something like this would happen.”

Managers at Outback, Toys R Us and Pizzeria Uno refused to comment.

Frederick is about 50 miles northwest of Washington.

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