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Police say father killed wife, children, self in Herndon home

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Fairfax County police on Wednesday identified the family of four found dead in their Herndon home, saying that preliminarily it appears a man living in the home fatally shot his wife and two children before taking his own life.

Police identified the family members found Tuesday as Albert Peterson, 57; Kathleen Peterson, 52; and their two children, 16-year-old Matthew Peterson and 13-year-old Christopher Peterson. The four people suffered gunshot wounds to the upper body, according to the state Office of the Medical Examiner.

Police discovered the gruesome scene inside the home in the 13300 block of Point Rider Lane in Herndon around noon Tuesday. Officers received a call that morning asking them to check on an adult who had not shown up for work this week, Fairfax County police spokeswoman Lucy Caldwell said. Police did not say whether it was a co-worker of Mr. Peterson or Mrs. Peterson who called.

Homicide investigators are looking into the history of calls for police or other services — if any — at the Petersons' home, Fairfax police spokesman Officer Don Gotthardt said Wednesday.

The two teenagers, students at public schools in Fairfax County, also had not been to school this week, Ms. Caldwell said. Neighbors identified the boys as a high school student and a middle school student.

Neighbors said the family was seen during a homeowners association picnic Sunday afternoon.

Officials with the Herndon Youth Soccer Association, a recreational league that Christopher belonged to for several years, said that the teenager played in a game that started at 6:30 p.m. Sunday. According to the team's schedule, the Herndon Rovers South team, a travel team that Christopher has been a member of for four years, played at Hutchinson Park that evening.

"All of the folks on the other three teams all knew this young boy," said Tom Yanosky, a representative with the Herndon Youth Soccer Association, mentioning the other travel teams that practiced with the Rovers South. "So it's pretty sad for everybody."

A candlelight vigil was scheduled to be held Wednesday night at the Floris United Methodist Church in remembrance of the family.

In a message on the church's website letting church members know about the vigil, the Rev. Tom Berlin wrote that the Peterson family had attended the church and were well-known in the community. Christopher and Matthew had attended Rachel Carson Middle School and both played soccer. Christopher had been involved in the student ministry, he wrote.

"Everyone is feeling a great deal of grief over this loss and are searching for answers that are not known at this time," Mr. Berlin wrote.

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