Authorities said Monday they found two handguns with the badly decomposed bodies of five family members who were discovered in a home in a wealthy, gated Orange County community over the holiday weekend.
The handguns were found near the bodies of a man and woman in
their 40s and were registered to the middle-aged woman, said sheriff's spokeswoman Lt. Erin Giudice. The man and woman were found together in a downstairs closet, while a woman in her 70s and two sisters in their early 20s were found in the attached bedroom, she said.
Guidice said the man suffered an apparent gunshot wound, but it was impossible to tell if the others had been shot as well because of the advanced decomposition of the bodies. Authorities believe the bodies had been in the home, undiscovered, between two to three weeks.
"The bodies were terribly, terribly decomposed," she said.
It was unclear how the family died. Neither homicide nor suicide could immediately be ruled out, Giudice said, and she stressed there was no threat to the community. She said deputies were not searching for any suspects.
The coroner began autopsies at 9 a.m. Monday but Guidice said the identities of the family members wouldn't be available until Tuesday because of the difficulty of examining bodies that are badly decomposed.
Guidice said deputies were called to the home twice in recent weeks - on May 14 and Saturday - by concerned neighbors and family members, but found nothing amiss. In both cases, the callers thought the family might be on vacation, she said.
Sheriff's deputies called a locksmith on Saturday to get into a car parked in the driveway to search for a garage remote, but they didn't find one. Relatives said the family might still be on vacation and indicated they would check back the next day.
On Sunday, the relatives broke into the residence and found the
bodies, Guidice said.
Investigators, wearing breathing apparatus, spent most of Sunday
evening looking for evidence at the home overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
Sea Pointe Estates is a gated community of about 75 upscale homes on a hill near the coast in San Clemente, about 65 miles southeast of Los Angeles at the southern edge of Orange County. The house where the family was found was worth about $1.7 million, according to the real estate Web site Zillow.com.