The two cars involved in a wrong-way collision on I-94 near Michigan City, Ind., burst into flames. Both drivers, the only people in the vehicles, died. When police went to the Van Buren Township home of one of the drivers to notify next of kin, they found a woman and two children dead. Indiana State Police
VAN BUREN TOWNSHIP, Mich. (Detroit Free Press) - UPDATE Police in southeast Michigan are investigating whether a man intentionally crashed into another car head on after killing his family.
Police in Indiana say Michael Vanderlinden of Van Buren Township and another man died after the crash around 1:30 Thursday morning.
Venderlinden's wife and two children were found dead in their home when police went there to notify them of Vanderlinden's death.
Van Buren Police Capt. Greg Laurain said the woman, who was in her mid-30s and the two boys ages 7 and 4, were found dead stabbed to death in their bedrooms.
A public records search shows Michael Vanderlinden, 39, and his wife, Linda Vanderlinden, 34, owned the home. Police in Indiana identified Michael Vanderlinden as one of two drivers killed in a car crash near Michigan City this morning.
"The big question is, 'who is behind this?' " said Laurain of the deaths in the township. "That's hard to answer right now because of the circumstances."
A weapon, which Laurain declined to identify, was found at the scene. He said township police took a laptop from the home.
Police went to the house about 8:30 a.m. after the LaPorte County Coroner in Indiana asked for help identifying the body of Michael Vanderlinden.
LaPorte County Coroner John Sullivan said Vanderlinden and Juan Nelson, 45, of Portage, Ind., both were killed in the accident.
Sullivan said Vanderlinden was driving the wrong way on I-94 in a Chrysler 300 when he collided with Nelson's Chevrolet Monte Carlo. Rescue workers found the men pinned in the burning wreckage when they arrived in the early morning.
The causes of death for both men were fourth-degree burns and blunt force trauma. Sullivan said he is ruling the deaths accidental at this time.
Laurain said his office is in contact with Indiana State Police to see if any evidence survived the fire in the car crash.
Vanderlinden was last seen leaving the house about 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, police said.
Police found the door to the house unlocked but no sign of a struggle or forced entry.
Laurain said there was no police history at the house, except for an animal control call and a medical assistance call.
Laurain said triple homicides are rare in the township.
"We have a hard job. When you deal with multiple deaths and children are involved, it's hard on officers," he said.
Anna Drive is in a fairly new subdivision in the township, built among farmland and vintage cottages. The houses, including that of the Vanderlinden family, are two stories, with brick faces and siding.
A statement released by the Van Buren School District this afternoon reads:
"The Van Buren Public Schools family is deeply saddened to learn today of the tragic deaths of two Van Buren Schools students. During the 2011-2012 school year, the seven-year-old attended 1st grade in the Gifted and Talented program at Tyler Elementary and the 4-year-old was to attend the Bright Beginnings Preschool at ECDC in the coming year. Our hearts and prayers are with their families and friends at this terrible time.
"As a service to the community, we will have a grief counselor available at Savage Elementary located at 42975 Savage Road, on Friday, August 17, from 9:00 a.m. - 11:00 p.m., 1:00 p.m. - 3 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. on a walk-in basis."