Authorities are looking for a man they say killed his ex-wife and two others before taking off with his two young children early Thursday.

Buncombe County Sheriff's Office spokesman Lt. Ross Dillingham said deputies went to a home in Candler looking for Angela Heatwole after a family member reported her missing around 3 a.m. Thursday morning. Her car was parked outside the residence when deputies arrived around noon, but no one answered the door.

"Based on the victim's vehicle being outside, they made entrance," Dillingham said.

Dillingham said once inside, deputies found Heatwole and another person dead. The second victim isn't being identified until relatives are notified, Dillingham said.

Through their investigation, officials found another person dead in a nearby home. Dillingham said that person also is not being named until relatives are notified.

Dillingham said Richard Doughlas Heatwole, 45, is presently the only suspect in the slayings. Heatwole, 45, is suspected of killing ex-wife and the two other victims and leaving the area with his and Angela Heatwole's two children, 6-year-old Hayes and 10-year-old Haley. Dillingham said that Heatwole should be considered armed and dangerous.

An Amber Alert was issued Thursday evening for the two children.

The Amber Alert mentions that Heatwole and his children may be traveling in a 1986 Toyota extended-cab truck to St. Petersburg, Fla., where Heatwole has family.

Dillingham said the safe return of the children is his department's priority.

"We're not going to stop until we've found these children," he said. "We're going work on this throughout the evening, and through the weekend. Whatever it takes."