Mother, 2 young children found fatally shot in burning home

STRASBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – A mother and her two young children were found dead with gunshot wounds after a fire early Tuesday in their Lancaster County home.

District Attorney Craig Stedman said the bodies of 40-year-old Carola Arnau, her 10-year-old daughter, and her 4-year-old son were found in their beds, in a single bedroom.

Police had responded to the home in the 1400 block of Village Road, in Strasburg Township, after a neighbor returning from work reported the fire around 3 a.m.

Stedman said the investigation is ongoing and autopsies are pending, but they know the fire was intentionally set. He said the shootings were not random and a gun was found on the mother.

“The firearm was purchased yesterday by her along with some ammunition which we have accounted for,” Stedman said at a news conference. “It was legally purchased.”

A second fire was burning in a detached garage where Arnau’s husband had been living during the couple’s pending divorce. Stedman said the husband was at work at the time of the shootings and fire.

He said tensions between the couple had been escalating.

“The only small comfort I can offer is that it appears they would not have known,” Stedman said of the children. “It appears they were shot in their sleep and there does not appear to be any struggle whatsoever. As pathetic as a comfort that is, it’s some small thing.”

The family’s dog was also found dead in the home and had been shot.

Erin Murphy, who lives and works nearby, said she saw the family playing outside on Monday.

“The kids were on the driveway with their little Barbie Jeep,” Murphy said. “They just seemed to be having a good time, family time.”

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