CANDLER, N.C. – A police standoff with a man suspected of killing three people and kidnapping two of his children in western North Carolina ended Friday when the man turned a gun on himself, authorities said.
The two children were safe in police custody, Buncombe County Sheriff's Office spokesman Lt. Ross Dillingham said.
Richard D. Heatwole, 45, is suspected of killing his ex-wife and two other people who have not been identified. Richard Heatwole was on probation for a Florida drug charge, Dillingham said.
Dillingham said the case still was being investigated and wouldn't discuss a motive for the slayings. He also said the identities of the other victims hadn't been released.
Dillingham said Heatwole fled Buncombe County with the children to a cousin's house near Taylorsville in Alexander County, where officers found him. The spokesman said Heatwole committed suicide at the cousin's house and that the children and cousin were there. Taylorsville is about 90 miles northeast of Candler, which is near Asheville.
An Amber Alert was issued Thursday for Hayes Heatwole, 6, and Haley Heatwole, 10, after the three people were found dead.
One victim at the slaying scene was identified as Angela Heatwole, 49. Dillingham said the slayings in Candler involved two houses. Angela Heatwole and another person were found in one home. The third victim, a woman, was found in a nearby house. Authorities haven't said how the three were killed.
The bodies were discovered when deputies were called to check on a house. Later, yellow crime scene tape was strung in front of both dwellings.
"We did not get anybody at the door, but based upon something the initial deputy saw, we thought there were some people in the house, but they weren't coming to the door," Dillingham told the Asheville Citizen-Times.
Neighbors said Richard Heatwole operated a golf driving range.
Neighbor Clyde Curtis lives across the road from the homes where the bodies were found and said Richard Heatwole "seemed friendly enough. You never expect anything like this in your neighborhood."