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Police and fire

AP | John Seewer
Footprints in the snow lead to the home in Defiance where sheriff's deputies are investigation an apparent triple-murder and suicide.

Family of 4 dead in Defiance County

DEFIANCE, Ohio – A couple, their daughter and teenage granddaughter were found shot to death in their rural home, and authorities were trying to determine if the grandfather’s health problems sparked the apparent triple murder and suicide.

The grandfather apparently killed the others and then took his own life, according to Defiance County Sheriff’s Department investigators who went to the scene about 47 miles northeast of Fort Wayne.

There was no immediate determination if those health problems prompted the killings.

The sheriff’s department said the bodies were discovered Thursday night by a family member who was checking on the welfare of the four.

They were last seen about 3 p.m. Wednesday.

Sheriff David Westrick said Friday that two bodies were found in one room and two in another. He declined to be more specific about the scene or indicate how many times each was shot.

A handgun apparently used in the shootings was found at the scene, the sheriff said.

The house is on Bowman Road in a rural area several miles south of the city of Defiance.

Family members gathered at another home and declined to comment.

Officials identified the dead as Robert Garza Sr., 68, his wife, Christine Garza, 61, their daughter, Zoila Garza, 42, and a granddaughter, 15-year-old Rebecca Garza.

The sheriff said he knew the family, not well, and said Robert Garza was a hard-working, law-abiding individual who hadn’t before come to the attention of deputies.

Westrick said the initial investigation indicated Garza had health problems and was concerned about exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam.

The declined to specify Garza’s ailments.

Lindsey Poston, who lives down the road from the Garza house, said she hasn’t talked to the family much but in the summer she would see a boy and girl swimming in the above-ground pool or jumping on a trampoline behind the house.

She said the Garza couple had several children and had lived in the house, which is mostly surrounded by farmland, for at least about 20 years.

Associated Press writer Thomas J. Sheeran in Cleveland contributed to this story.