A 33-year-old Charlotte man killed his wife and two children before turning the gun on himself overnight at an apartment complex in southeast Charlotte, police say.
The wife and two children may have been dead since mid-March.
Two other children escaped unharmed. Police said the 10-year-old girl may have continued to attend school and did not tell anyone about the killings because she was afraid her little brother would be killed.
Police say the children who died were 12 years old and 13 months old.
The victims were discovered in two separate apartment complexes off Providence Road, according to police detectives. The husband and two children were found at the Berkshire Apartments, on Providence Square Drive. And the wife was discovered at an apartment on Via Romano Drive, about a half-mile from the other unit.
The woman and two children might have been dead for several days, police say.
Police have identified the victims as Nateesha Ward Chapman, 34, the mother; children Na'Jhae Parker, 12, and Nakyiah Jael Chapman, 13 months; and the husband, Kenneth Jermaine Chapman.
Police say Kenneth Chapman killed his wife and two children, but they haven't determined the manner of death.
Authorities say the series of events started about 11:15 p.m. Monday, when an uncle of Nateesha Chapman called police and said he had not been able to contact his niece. Officers were sent to an apartment in the 6900 block of Providence Square Drive.
When they arrived, police say, they found the front door of Apartment 179 open, and they could see the husband standing inside. They called to him, and police say a few moments later, they heard two gunshots. About the same time, two young children ran out of the apartment, uninjured.
When officers went inside the apartment, they say, they discovered the man, later identified as Kenneth Chapman, dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to his head.