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Man Murdered Wife, Children, Family Dog Before Killing Himself, Authorities Say

The youngest of Michael Ireland’s three children was only 8 months old.

By Sharon Lynn Pruitt

A North Carolina man killed his wife, three children, and even the family dog before taking his own life, authorities said.

Michael Ireland, 39, is believed to have killed his wife, 26-year-old April Ireland, his three children — who were between the ages of 8 months and 4 years old — and their dog before turning the gun on himself, the Craven County Sheriff's Office said Monday.

Authorities were called to perform a welfare check at the family’s home in the Vanceboro area at around noon on Friday by a family member who reported that she’d been unable to contact anyone in the family since Wednesday evening, the sheriff's office said. Upon their arrival, deputies spotted a body inside the home through a gap in a curtain, so they forced their way inside and found every member of the family dead of single gunshot wounds, authorities recounted about the grisly scene. 

The body of Michael Ireland was found in the master bedroom and a revolver was found lying next to him, authorities said. The family dog was also found dead in the same room, while Ireland's wife April and their 8-month-old daughter Caroline were found on the living room couch. The couple’s two sons, 3-year-old Bryson and 4-year-old Michael, were also found in the living room, but were on a different couch, officials said.

April Michael Ireland Fb

There was no sign of an apparent struggle inside the home, the sheriff's office said.

Craven County Sheriff Chip Hughes said that he believes the killings took place between Wednesday and Friday, local outlet WNCT reports. He also stated that deputies had been called to the Ireland home before, most recently in 2015, but did not elaborate in regards to what that call was about.

At this time, authorities do not yet know what led to the shooting; the investigation in ongoing, the sheriff told reporters Monday.

“In Craven County, we’ve had a very emotional week here, and our thoughts and prayers go out to the families involved,” Hughes said. “It’s just a very sad time and it affected a lot of people, so please keep the families in your thoughts and prayers.”

“To my knowledge, Craven County has never experienced such a senseless loss of innocent lives in modern times,” he continued later on. “Officers with over 40 years of experience describe this as one of the most horrific crime scenes in their careers.”

April Ireland launched a GoFundMe campaign in August in an attempt to raise money for medical bills and other expenses while Michael Ireland was recovering in the intensive care unit from an incident that she called self-inflicted, according to a review of the campaign page. 

“My husband Michael Ireland suffered severely from depression among other mental illnesses and was recently injured very badly,” she wrote, adding, “he is very sick mentally.”

The campaign raised $150 of the $10,000 goal.