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Father's troubles emerge in investigation of family's slaying

  • Story Highlights
  • NEW: Note indicated father was having "psychological issues," sheriff says
  • NEW: Investigators say they've learned Christopher Wood also had money problems
  • Sheriff: Man apparently killed his wife and three young children, then shot himself
  • Slain mother's family were longtime residents of the Middletown, Maryland, area
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(CNN) -- A Maryland man believed to have shot and stabbed his wife and three young children to death before killing himself with a shotgun was having money problems and left a note saying he suffered from "psychological issues," authorities said.

Five people, including three young children, were found dead in this house in Middletown, Maryland.

Five people, including three young children, were found dead in this house in Middletown, Maryland.

Christopher Wood, 34, may have slashed at least some of his family members in the killings and used a small-caliber handgun on others, Frederick County Sheriff Charles Jenkins said.

He was found dead of an apparently self-inflicted shotgun wound at the foot of the bed where the bodies of his wife and 2-year-old daughter lay, the sheriff said.

Wood's sons were 5 and 4 years old, authorities said. His wife, Francie Billotti Wood, was 33.

The boys were found in their beds in a single bedroom, the sheriff said. Authorities did not release the names of the children.

"These are horrific incidents," said Jenkins, who said he couldn't remember another homicide in the past 20 years in Middletown, a one-stoplight town northwest of Baltimore. "No one should ever have to be exposed to this."

Jenkins told CNN that at least five notes apparently handwritten by Wood were found inside the home. While the notes didn't immediately tell investigators what prompted the killings, they did provide some insight into possible problems.

"There is some indication in at least one of the notes that there might have been some psychological issues with Mr. Wood," Jenkins said.

There was "a mention of some medication" in that note, according to the sheriff.

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Jenkins said the sheriff's office had no record of domestic violence or other family disputes at the Wood's home.

He said investigators also have learned of money problems for Wood, a salesman for CSX Railroad.

"We are aware there were some, maybe, debt problems -- some financial problems," Jenkins said.

Cpl. Jennifer Bailey said deputies went to the home shortly after 9 a.m. after Mrs. Wood's father called. Her family had not seen the Woods for about a day and her father forced his way into the locked home, finding the bodies, according to Jenkins.

Authorities said a shotgun was found next to Christopher Wood's body and a .25-caliber handgun was found in a "container" in the kitchen. The sheriff said other weapons that could have been used to stab and cut the victims were found, but he did not say what those weapons were. Video Watch sheriff's department's statement »

Francie Wood's family were longtime residents of the Middletown area. Her brother had recently retired from a career as a sheriff's deputy, Jenkins said.

The family had moved to town from Florida about four months ago.

"We're all in shock," said the Rev. Kevin Farmer, the family's minister at Holy Family Catholic Church. "This was a family, though they hadn't been with us very long, they are an integral part of our community."Video Watch views from the crime scene »

He said the road the Woods lived on is a shortcut to the church and he would often see the children while riding a scooter he uses when the weather is good.

"They would always stop and wave and get big eyes as the scooter came by," he said. "They were very happy kids."

Jenkins said autopsies will be performed on the bodies over the next few days and that it could be weeks before the results are ready to be released.

Jenkins told CNN that at least five notes apparently handwritten by Wood were found inside the home. While the notes didn't immediately tell investigators what prompted the killings, they did provide some insight into possible problems, the sheriff said.

"There is some indication in at least one of the notes that there might have been some psychological issues with Mr. Wood," Jenkins said.

Cpl. Jennifer Bailey said deputies went to the home shortly after 9 a.m. after Mrs. Wood's father called. The family had not been seen for several days, Bailey said.

Authorities said several weapons, including a shotgun, were found inside the home.

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Christopher Wood had been an employee of CSX Railroad, Jenkins said. He said the sheriff's office had no record of domestic violence or other family disputes at the Woods' home.

"In my entire career, just about 20 years, this is probably the worst tragedy I've ever been a part of or ever seen in Frederick County," Jenkins said.

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