- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 19, 2009

MIDDLETOWN, Md. | An accountant for a railroad operator killed his wife and their three children before fatally shooting himself in a northwest Maryland home, leaving a gruesome scene that was discovered Saturday by the youngsters’ grandfather, authorities said.

When investigators arrived at the two-story home, the couple’s two sons, ages 4 and 5, lay dead in their beds, while the bodies of a 2-year-old daughter and the mother, Francis Billotti Wood, lay in the master bedroom, Frederick County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Jennifer Bailey said. On the master bedroom floor by the foot of the bed was the father, 34-year-old Christopher Alan Wood, dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, Ms. Bailey said.

The 33-year-old mother and three children suffered “traumatic cuts” and each also had at least one gunshot wound from a .25-caliber handgun, Frederick County Sheriff Charles A. Jenkins said. Their precise cause of death wasn’t immediately known, and Sheriff Jenkins declined to say what was used to slash them.

Mrs. Wood’s father found them dead around 9 a.m. He had grown concerned after not hearing from them for several days, Ms. Bailey said.

Christopher Wood apologized in one of five notes he wrote to family members and left at the scene, and indicated in a note that he had psychiatric problems, Sheriff Jenkins said. The sheriff wouldn’t elaborate on what else was written in the notes.

Sheriff Jenkins also didn’t specify a motive, but said there was evidence that Wood, a sales accountant at CSX Corp., faced financial problems.

CSX did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment Saturday.

The family had moved months ago to the town of Middletown, a community of fewer than 3,000 people about 10 miles west of Frederick, friends said.

“We’re all in shock and trying to come to terms,” said the Rev. Kevin Farmer, pastor of Holy Family Catholic Community Church, where Mrs. Wood taught catechism.

Neighbor Peggy Lawrence described Mrs. Wood as a good homemaker.

“I’m still sick to my stomach,” Ms. Lawrence said. “Just to see it end so quickly is so devastating and makes you realize you never know what’s going on in people’s lives.”

• Associated Press writer Gillian Gaynair in Washington contributed to this report.

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