A family of six was found dead in a Far North Side home after a welfare check led to a neighborhood evacuation when police encountered a chemical odor and a “cryptic note.”

The bodies of a husband, wife, four children and two cats were found in the garage of the home in the 100 block of Red Willow, San Antonio Police Chief William McManus said.

McManus said police were called at 10:30 a.m. seeking a welfare check when the husband, who was working from home, didn’t check in with his place of employment.

McManus said seven officers walked inside the home and were immediately overcome by a heavy, noxious fume. They were checked by EMS and determined to be unharmed. Late Thursday, McManus said the odor was carbon monoxide.

“Most officers know what the smell of decomposing bodies is, and that’s not what has been described,” the chief said.

On the front door was a “cryptic note” with military jargon, the chief said.

A member of the military helped police with a translation: “Bodies or people inside, do not enter,” the chief said.

It continued: “The animals are in the freezer.”

A drone sent inside the house found what appeared to be explosives, preventing police from immediately searching the home in the 100 block of Red Willow at the Heights at Stone Oak subdivision, and prompting the evacuation of more than 200 homes nearby about 5 p.m.

Residents were allowed back into their homes by about 9:30 p.m. McManus said no explosives were found inside the home.

When officials were able to enter the home, the family was found in the garage.

A man who rents the home is a member of the military and lives there with his spouse and children, investigators said. The chief did not immediately know what branch of the military the man is with.

Police said they have only been called to the home, where the family had lived since January, once in the last six months.

“We believe this place may be booby-trapped, and we have not determined the best way to make entry yet,” McManus said at a news conference about 3:45 p.m.

About 9:30 p.m., police said they had cleared the home of explosives and said it was safe for residents to return home.

The FBI and military were assisting police with the investigation.

An emergency alert to evacuate a perimeter within 150 yards of the home on Red Willow was sent out at about 5 p.m. More than 200 homes were evacuated from within the area.

Joseph Arrington, a San Antonio Fire Department spokesman, says the evacuation alert encountered a glitch and was accidentally sent to the entire North Side before operators could specify the perimeter.


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