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CULPEPER, Va. — Investigators are searching for a motive in the deaths of five family members whose bodies a relative found late Sunday after she climbed through a window into their house.

The family appears to be victims of a murder-suicide, Detective Angela Deavers of the Culpeper County Sheriff's Office said Monday. Officers recovered a gun, and all three children and two adults likely died of gunshot wounds. Autopsies are pending.

An initial investigation revealed that Clarence Washington, 35, shot his 35-year-old wife, Shauna, and then killed their three daughters — Olivia, 4; Onya, 6; and Onesha, 13 — at their home just north of Culpeper, Deavers said. The town is about 60 miles southwest of the District of Columbia.

The couple had an ongoing argument that grew more heated Saturday, loud enough that neighbors heard the shouting, but no one called police. Law enforcement did not receive any calls from occupants of the home, deputies said.

The last time anyone saw the victims alive was around 5:30 p.m. Saturday. On Sunday morning, family members did not show up as they usually did for church.

Later Sunday afternoon, relatives asked officers to make a welfare check on the family.

Deputies knocked on the door of the house that's set back from a busy road in a wooded area. No one answered, but all looked normal outside, authorities said. So officers did not try to go in the house.

Still, relatives in the area remained concerned, so Shauna Washington's mother went to her daughter's house with another relative at around 10 p.m. ET Sunday, entered through a window and found the bodies, authorities said.

Neighbors said they heard the woman scream when she found her daughter dead but did not hear any gunshots in the day before that.

"This is definitely a shock to the community, for sure," Culpeper Mayor Michael Olinger said. "Very seldom do we have a murder in Culpeper or any kind of activity such as this." The Washingtons' home, which they had rented for more than a year, is 2 miles outside of this town of about 17,000 residents.

Olinger said he did not know the victims.

Clarence Washington was a janitor at Sycamore Park Elementary School in Culpeper and may have had a second job. His wife also worked outside the home at one or more jobs, sheriff's officials said.

Reggie Massie lives two doors from where the bodies were found and said he and his family attended a Fourth of July party at the Washingtons' house where everything appeared normal.

Clarence Washington was a quiet guy, Massie said. And children in their cluster of homes, including his 7-year-old daughter and Onya, often play together.

"I never would have suspected this," he said. "Culpeper is the last place you'd imagine this. Everybody here is family."

Contributing: The Associated Press

Shauna Washington, 35, used this photo as her Facebook profile.

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