- Associated Press - Thursday, June 2, 2016

TOWN OF BURLINGTON, Wis. (AP) - A house fire and explosion in Racine County that left three dead was likely a murder-suicide, because at least one of the victims had been fatally shot, according to sheriff’s investigators.

Authorities say it may have been the end of a relationship that caused Craig Lambert, 41, to kill his girlfriend, Kimberly Howe, 43, and her 17-year-old son, Nicholas Chaulkin, last month in the Town of Burlington.

The teen had been shot in the head, but injuries to Howe and Lambert were so severe that a cause of death could not be determined, according to Racine County sheriff’s officials. Investigators found a gas line had been removed in the basement, allowing the house to fill with gas and explode when ignited.

“Although the exact series of events that occurred on 5/14/16 may never be known, based on the totality of information obtained throughout the investigation, the evidence suggests that Craig Lambert is responsible for the death of Nicholas Chaulkin, Kimberly Howe, and the subsequent fire and explosion,” the sheriff’s department said in a statement.

The daughters of Howe and Lambert told WTMJ-TV (http://bit.ly/1t3GMwz ) that their parents had a long relationship and that their children were essentially family.

“We’re grieving, the whole family is grieving,” said Lambert’s daughter, Kayla Lambert. “Now our family is torn apart by this and all the comments that people are making just make it so much worse.”

Howe’s daughter, Tamara Burgos, said Lambert was never aggressive toward her mother and didn’t have a temper.

“Investigators learned through the course of the investigation that Howe and Lambert were recently involved in a domestic dispute and Lambert was being kicked out of the residence,” the sheriff’s department said.

Two of the victims were found in the rubble of the home shortly after the fire was extinguished. The third person’s remains were found after days of searching through the ruins.

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Information from: WTMJ-AM, http://www.620wtmj.com

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