Police believe a father murdered his young son and daughter then hanged himself on Father’s Day during a custody battle with his estranged wife.
Deputies from the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department arrived at the Santa Rosa, California, home of Alvaro Camara, 40, on Monday morning to a horrifying scene as they responded to a welfare check.
He was supposed to drop his six-year-old daughter and 18-month-old son off at their mother’s house Sunday night, but never showed up. The estranged wife and mother of the two deceased children released a statement Tuesday ‘I sit… swaddled in my daughter’s blanket and drinking tea from a cup that reads ‘I love you mom’, fighting back the tears and struggling to make sense of this horrific situation’
‘I sought help on numerous occasions and said many many many times my children were in danger in their fathers care and I didn’t receive the urgent help I needed to save them’ the statement concludes. Deputies found Camara and his children dead inside the home. Camara hanged himself in a bedroom, the bodies of his daughter and son were nearby.
Camara’s two children, six-year-old daughter Juliana and 18-month-old son, Julian, spent Father’s Day with him. He was married, but had been separated from his wife for six months.
Neighbors say he lived in the complex only a few months but the arguments between him and his wife were intense on several occasions. Officers aren’t saying how the children died at this time.
Deputies say Camara and the children’s mother were involved in a custody dispute before the double murder-suicide. ‘I’m not quite sure what was going through his mind,’ said Camara’s sister, Jessica Espada to KTVU who arrived at the scene. ‘It just caught all of us by surprise, and it’s very tragic, we aren’t sure why he would do such a thing?’
Residents had been getting to know the children, after Camara moved in a few months ago. ‘A beautiful little girl and a sweet little boy,’ said neighbor Julia Poncia. ‘He was great, he’d have the kids visit, and ride bikes, and he’d take them to the park,’ Poncia said sadly, ‘and so I don’t know. You just never know about people.’
Alvaro Camara pictured with his two young children in an older image, his
daughter Juliana was 6, and his little son, Julian, was just 18-months-old when
they were killed.
‘It’s an absolute tragedy to see two young children lose their lives in a custody dispute,’ Santa Rosa Police Lt. John Cregan. Detectives were at the scene all day Monday, trying to determine a timeline, and a trigger for the sudden violence. Camara was supposed to hand the kids over to his estranged wife at his apartment Sunday evening at 7pm.
When no one answered her knock she called the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department. Deputies Sunday night found Camara’s place dark and quiet as well, and figured he was extending his Father’s Day visit with them. They left, and returned Monday morning, with worried relatives. Climbing through a bathroom window, they were able to find the bodies.
‘Our preliminary investigation shows they did have a volatile arrangement following their separation,’ Cregan said, ‘and there have been heated verbal exchanges that we’re aware of.’ Still, there appeared to be no warning of the violence. Camara’s estranged wife lives outside city limits, so she reported that her kids were unaccounted for to the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department.
Deputies Sunday night found Camara’s place dark and quiet as well, and figured he was extending his Father’s Day visit with them. They left, and returned Monday morning, with worried relatives. Climbing through a bathroom window, they were able to find the bodies. ‘They took off a screen on the window and were trying to go in there,’ described a neighbor who gave her name as Tanya.
She lives above the Camara unit, and thought the commotion at his door was odd, because she is convinced she heard him and his daughter speaking earlier in the day. ‘I heard them talking this morning, about 7:30 or 8:00, what were they saying, I don’t know but I could hear their voices.’ Another neighbor said Camara had seemed nervous over the weekend.
‘We’ve just noticed he was a little anxious the past couple of days,’ shared Carrie Buchholz, ‘and the police have been here off and on but he was always really good with the kids.’
The couple had been together about eight years, and filed for divorce only a few months ago.
Police say it’s too earlier to know if a more aggressive search for the children might have made a difference.
‘We’re stilll going to be exploring the timeline to determine when the children were last seen and when the tragedy occurred,’ Cregan said.