updated 4/27/2011 1:33:49 PM ET 2011-04-27T17:33:49

A man who called 911 to say that he shot and killed his wife and their three children told friends just days earlier that he'd kill his wife if she cheated on him, according to reports released by investigators.

Interviews with friends and family members show that the marriage had been in trouble for years and filled with infidelity and threats.

Investigators said Dawn Atwater made a desperate call to a friend just before her husband began shooting. She was crying and yelling, "No!" before the voicemail message ended, said a deputy who listened to the message.

About 20 minutes later, investigators say Alan Atwater told a 911 dispatcher in a calm voice that he killed his family and was getting ready to kill himself. Deputies found all five bodies on April 16 in the same bedroom of their farmhouse southeast of Toledo.

Each victim had a single gunshot wound. The youngest, 1-year-old Brady, was in a bed. The other children, Ashley, 4, and Isaac, 2, were found on the floor near their mother, Dawn, 30.

On the day of the shootings, Atwater, 31, confided with one of his wife's former co-workers that he had just returned home after being away for work the last several weeks and that Dawn told him she wanted a separation, according to reports from the Ottawa County Sheriff's office.

Atwater also sent an aunt several text messages that day about how to save his marriage, the reports said. "I need her so bad," he wrote. "There is nothing that is as important to me as her and I'm goin to prove it."

His aunt responded that Dawn Atwater no longer had feelings for him, but that they still had time to fall in love again.

Atwater had no criminal record, and the sheriff's office at first said it wasn't aware of any disputes between Atwater and his wife, a stay-at-home mother.

One of the couple's friends later told investigators that Atwater and his wife both acknowledged that he had pushed her against a wall and choked her early in their marriage.

Relatives said that Atwater could have turned to plenty of nearby family members for help. At least four live within sight of their farmhouse.

Two days before the shootings, Dawn Atwater told a friend that she was no longer willing to give her husband a chance, the investigative reports said. She said he already had several chances and that the feeling isn't there anymore, the friend said.

Atwater told friends four days before the shooting that he would kill his wife if she cheated, another friend told a detective.

Another friend said Atwater had cheated on his wife a few years ago. Then just a month before the shootings, a man who helped Atwater with work around his family's farm said that Atwater asked him to have sex with his wife. They did so on two occasions, once when Atwater was home, the man told detectives.

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