Image: A Tallahassee investigator lifts police tape to pass under at a home
Steve Cannon  /  AP
A Tallahassee investigator checks out the crime scene at a home where a woman and three children were slain on Saturday in Tallahassee, Fla.
updated 11/20/2010 10:16:52 PM ET 2010-11-21T03:16:52

A woman and three young children were found killed at a violent crime scene in a north Florida home on Saturday, and homicide detectives were out looking for whoever might have had a reason to harm them, police said.

Family and neighbors said the woman was a single, stay-at-home mother raising twin 6-year-old girls and a 3-year-old son.

Police spokesman David McCranie wouldn't elaborate on the signs of violence police found at the home, but investigators believe the four were slain by someone else. The case is being investigated as a homicide.

"We are trying to find out if anyone would want to harm the family," he said.

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Two neighbors said the area has been plagued by burglaries, though McCranie said he wasn't aware of a lot of problems there. He said police hadn't been called to the home before.

McCranie wouldn't say how the four died or release their names. Their bodies were found after police received a suspicious call at 10:15 a.m.

Phone numbers listed for the home were not in service. A man who owns the property declined comment.

The one-story home where the bodies were found sits in a new subdivision in a heavily wooded part of the state capital, a few miles from the campuses of Florida State University and Florida A&M University. McCranie said a lot of families live in the neighborhood.

"This is a very shocking and unusual case for us," he said.

On Saturday afternoon, a crowd gathered outside the house while crime scene investigators came in and out. Several relatives had come but mostly wouldn't talk to reporters.

Dennis Williams, 35, of Albany, Ga., identified himself as the half-brother of the slain woman, who he said was 28. He said the two weren't close, but he knew the woman's focus was on her children.

Cedrica Smith lives across the street and said her young children often played with the children found dead. Smith said the twin girls and the boy had different fathers, neither of which had been married to the woman.

The deaths were a surprise to 40-year-old Antawn Ellison, who lives two doors down from the slain family. He said the neighborhood has been mostly free of crime since police stepped up patrols because of a rash of burglaries about two years ago.

"This is a big shock to me," he said.

However, a woman who came to the scene from her home in an adjacent neighborhood said crime is still a problem where she lives.

"There are a lot of home invasions out here," said Sandra Smith.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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