SAN CLEMENTE, Calif. – Authorities have found two handguns near the badly decomposed bodies of five family members who were discovered in a home overlooking the ocean in a wealthy, gated Orange County community over the holiday weekend.
Sheriff's spokeswoman Lt. Erin Giudice said the handguns were found near the bodies of a man and woman in their 40s and were registered to the middle-aged woman.
The man and woman were found in a downstairs closet, while a woman in her 70s and two sisters in their early 20s were found in an attached bedroom, according to Giudice.
One of the guns was registered to the woman found in the closet, Giudice said.
Sheriff's officials are now saying that the man suffered from an apparent gunshot wound.
But the bodies are so badly decomposed that it's impossible to tell if the others were also shot, according to Giudice.
Autopsies began Monday but won't be done until Tuesday because of the decomposition.
The bodies were discovered by three relatives Sunday afternoon.
"It's a horrible thing for the poor people to find," Giudice said.
The names of the dead were not immediately released.
As to the specifics of how the family died, neither homicide nor suicide could immediately be ruled out, Giudice said. She stressed that there was no threat to the community.
"We're not actively looking for a suspect," Giudice said, adding there was no indication of a break-in at the home.
The family members hadn't been seen in at least two weeks and authorities believed the bodies had been in the house for two to three weeks. Sheriff's deputies had been asked to do a welfare check on the house on May 14 and again Saturday, Giudice said. The deputies found nothing amiss from outside the Sea Pointe Estates residence, she said.
The coroner started autopsies Monday morning but Giudice said the procedures wouldn't be completed until Tuesday. Identities of the dead wouldn't be available until Tuesday because of the difficulty of examining bodies in such advanced decomposition, she said.
Giudice said deputies were called to the home twice in recent weeks — on May 14 and Saturday — by concerned neighbors and family members, but in both cases the callers thought the family might be on vacation.
Deputies didn't enter the house and saw nothing amiss. Police generally can't enter a home in such a situation unless they see something suspicious.
Deputies called a locksmith on Saturday to get into a car parked in the driveway for an unsuccessful search for a garage door remote.
On Sunday, the relatives broke into the house and found the bodies, Giudice said.
Sea Pointe Estates is a gated community of about 75 upscale homes on a hill near the coast in San Clemente, about 65 miles southeast of Los Angeles at the southern edge of Orange County.