A Texas-based soldier, his wife, four kids and two cats were killed Wednesday night in what police suspect was an intentional carbon-monoxide poisoning.
The soldier, 38-year-old Staff Sgt. Jared Esquibel Harless, was a cryptologic cyberspace intelligence collector/analyst assigned to the 470th Military Intelligence Brigade, a spokeswoman for the unit told Task & Purpose.
Harless and his family were found in an SUV in the garage of their home in San Antonio on Thursday after the soldier failed to check in with his unit that morning, local police said.
The San Antonio Express-News reported that Harless’ wife was 36 years old and that their children included two boys, ages 4 years and 11 months, and two girls, ages 3 and 1.
The bodies were found at the end of a daylong search of the house on Thursday. Police officers were first called to the scene at 10:30 that morning for a welfare check, San Antonio police chief William McManus told reporters that night.
Police officers initially found a cryptic, military jargon-filled note on the front door of the house that implied there were “bodies” in the house and that there were “animals in the freezer,” McManus said.
Police officers sent a drone to check out the inside of the building, but the drone could not enter every room, the chief said. At first, police officers thought there were explosive devices in the house and that it might be booby-trapped, but later concluded that there was no such set-up.
Police officers then entered the house and found the family in the garage. McManus said it was evident the deaths were not an accident.
“There’s no words to describe it,” he told reporters of seeing the bodies.
San Antonio Express-News interviewed several of Harless’ neighbors, who described the family as reclusive:
“They kept to themselves more than usual. They’d been here since January and the husband waved to me just once, outside. That was it. I mean, they were always locked up in the house,” said Jorge Canavati Jr., a 62-year-old consultant who has lived in the neighborhood 15 years.
“The only time he would come out or I would see him out or we heard him out was when the neighborhood kids would be on the cul-de-sac playing ball, and their ball would hit his garage door and he would come out furious, just yell at them,” he added. “And that was the only time we would see him. I think he went out once to mow the lawn or something. That was it. It was very, very weird.”
The case is under investigation by the San Antonio Police Department and Army Criminal Investigation Command, the Army spokeswoman told Task & Purpose.
A native of Renton, Washington, Harless had been with the 470th since January, the unit spokeswoman said. He first joined the Army in 2010, and deployed to Iraq once in 2011 in support of Operation New Dawn.
Among his awards and decorations are the Army Commendation Award with one oak leaf; the Army Achievement Medal with two oak leaves and the Army Good Conduct Medal.