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Slain family's Jeep found in Florida

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WEST PALM BEACH, Florida (CNN) -- Police found a vehicle Monday that was driven by a family of four before they were shot to death Friday along Florida's Turnpike, the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Department said.

The West Palm Beach Police Department recovered the 1998 4-door, black Jeep Cherokee about 8:45 a.m. on a street in an industrial area near I-95.

The family -- a man, a woman, and two boys clasped in her arms -- were found dead Friday on the side of an isolated stretch of the Turnpike, police said. The woman appeared to be trying to protect the boys when they were shot, according to police.(Watch police describe how the slain family's car was found --1:58)

Authorities have said the suspect was riding in a vehicle with the family before the slayings.

The Jeep was being towed to the St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office in Fort Pierce, Florida, for processing by crime scene technicians, who are searching for fingerprints, clothing fibers or other clues.

Police identified the bodies Saturday, but investigators still are searching for the motive in the grisly slayings.

St. Lucie County Sheriff Ken J. Mascara identified the male victim as 28-year old Jose Luis Escobedo Jr., his wife Yessica Guerrero Escobedo, 25, and the couple's two boys, Luis Damian Escobedo, 3, and his brother Luis Julian Escobedo, 4.

Each of the victims were individually targeted by the killer or killers, Mascara said.

Yessica Escobedo was found face down cradling the children. Her husband was found lying face up near the other victims. Authorities say Escobedo Jr. was born in Texas and his wife was born in Florida.

The dead were lying on the shoulder of the southbound lanes, all shot "multiple times" while kneeling on the ground, Mascara said. (Gallery)

Mascara said the family had recently moved to Green Acres, in West Palm Beach, Florida, from Brownsville, Texas. The Escobedo's bodies were abandoned about an hour's drive north from where they lived. (Watch sheriff provide details about how the bodies were found -- 2:43)

Autopsies on the four began Monday, and may be completed by the end of the day, said Merv Waldren, spokesman for the St. Lucie County medical examiner.

Residents living near the scene of the shooting reported hearing gunshots between 1 a.m. and 3:30 a.m., Mascara said.

A woman who lives across the turnpike from the crime scene told CNN she heard a series of six loud pops and looked at her bedroom clock, which showed the time as 2:24 a.m. (Watch sheriff reveal what evidence has been found -- 1:57)

The woman and her husband looked outside, but could not see anything in the dark, she said. They called police after hearing helicopters and seeing emergency vehicles after daylight.

Authorities are asking that anyone with information about the crime call the St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office at 772-462-3230. Those that want to remain anonymous can call 1-800-273-TIPS.

Clues in the dew

Mascara said Friday there were no tire tracks found at the crime scene that investigators could cast for impressions; however, "this morning at 8 o'clock there was a dew and you could see plainly that there was a car that drove up to that scene and left."

Investigators working the case were emotionally affected by the slayings, he said.

"Everybody that went and viewed the bodies described it as one of the most gruesome scenes that they had been to," the sheriff said.

Police excavated soil at the crime scene for hours and found both bullets and bullet fragments, Mascara said. He said the evidence could help investigators determine whether more than one gun was used.

In addition, he said, authorities had collected garbage cans along the Turnpike, including those at exits and rest areas, for technicians to sift through, and 55 surveillance tapes from toll plazas were being reviewed.

Florida's Turnpike is the main toll road connecting the Miami area with cities along the Atlantic Coast to Fort Pierce and then inland to Orlando and Interstate 75.

CNN's Susan Candiotti contributed to this report.

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Investigators sift through soil at the crime scene Friday, looking for ballistic evidence.



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