- Associated Press - Thursday, January 14, 2016

A man who died in a house explosion and fire along with his wife and their two daughters in the Cleveland area this week had threatened to kill himself just over a month ago, according to a police report released Thursday.

The report follows a medical examiner’s statement that murder-suicide is one of the possibilities being looked at in the explosion that shook homes in a suburban neighborhood southeast of Cleveland.

The state fire marshal’s office already has said investigators determined arson was the cause of the fire and explosion Monday in Northfield Center Township. Utility officials have ruled out a natural gas leak.

A ruling on the cause of deaths could take weeks, said Gary Guenther, chief investigator with the Summit County medical examiner’s office.

Authorities identified those killed as Jeffrey and Cynthia Mather, both 43, along with their daughters, 8-year-old Ruthie and 12-year-old Alyson.

In early December, an officer with the Cleveland Metroparks found Jeffrey Mather alone with a shotgun loaded with a single slug in a park.

Mather, who according to media reports was a deacon at his church, said he had been suffering from severe depression and wanted to end it all, according to the police report.

He told the officer that he had put the shotgun to his head several times, but he put it down because he saw park visitors walking nearby, the report said.

Mather said he prayed for God’s help and a man approached him and later called authorities, the officer wrote.

He was then taken to a hospital for treatment, the report said.

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