msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 7/19/2010 5:51:31 AM ET 2010-07-19T09:51:31

A SWAT team searching for the suspect in an early Sunday morning attack that left a woman dead and her 9-year-old son on life support found him dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, authorities said.

Detectives said the body of Jan R. Demeerleer, 39, was located about 5 p.m. inside the garage of his eastern Washington home, according to the The Spokesman-Review.

The attack happened at the woman's home at around 3 a.m. Sunday, police Sgt. Dave Reagan said. Officers arrived at the home to find the woman dead and two boys — ages 9 and 17 — hurt.

The 17-year-old boy told police he awoke to a man slashing his neck with a knife. The teen called 911, telling the dispatcher "his stepdad had attempted to cut his throat and had killed his mom," Reagan said.

Reagan said the 9-year-old boy suffered a severe head injury. Both boys were taken to a Spokane hospital. Police said the 9-year-old has a twin brother, who was uninjured.

Detectives believe the woman died of a gunshot wound, the police statement said.

Citing neighbours and friends, The Spokesman-Review identified the victim as Rebecca Schiering.

Deena Caruso told the newspaper that Schiering, who owned a consignment clothing store, was "a wonderful mother."

'Fatherhood suits me well'
The woman had been living with Demeerleer at some point and they were engaged to be married, Reagan said. There had been some kind of dispute between the couple involving the children, he said.

The two 9-year-old boys were the woman's and Demeerleer had a 17-year-old daughter who was out of town Sunday, according to Reagan. He said the 17-year-old boy called Demeerleer his stepdad.

The Spokesman-Review reported that Demeerleer described himself as "first and foremost a family man" on his Facebook profile page.

"Fatherhood suits me well. Immediate family is the primary focus of my life…my career is second," he wrote, according to the newspaper.

The Associated Press and msnbc.com staff contributed to this story.

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