A relative of the man suspected of killing two of his children and his wife in Vadnais Heights feared he'd kill himself, as well.
Joseph Lister Nyaringo, a Kenyan immigrant who lives in New Jersey, said his cousin called him Wednesday, weeping on the phone about the difficulties he'd been having at home and at work. Nyaringo said the man was so distraught it alarmed him.
"When you find a man crying over the phone, saying goodbye, you know something is wrong," Nyaringo said. "He just wanted to tell me that it was out of frustration that he was going to do what he was going to do."
Nyaringo said his cousin, 43, wasn't specific and didn't mention what authorities later found: the man's wife, Bilha K. Omare, 32, and her children, 12-year-old Kinley Ogendi and 9-year-old Ivyn B. Ogendi were dead in their apartment. Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher said the suspect confessed.
But Nyaringo was nonetheless so concerned that he called police in Minnesota and told them he felt they ought to check on his cousin and his family. Ramsey County deputies responded and found the kids and wife dead just before midnight last night. A third child was missing, but later found unharmed.
It wasn't clear when or how the children and wife had died. A Nariobi radio station reported family members said they'd been poisoned, but Nyaringo said his cousin didn't say anything like that.
Fletcher said it was premature to talk about the cause of the deaths. He said Bilha Omare hadn't been at work all week and that the children hadn't been at school -- that someone had called to report they were sick.
Nyaringo said his cousin had immigrated from Kenya about 10 years ago to work as a nurse and that his wife was studying to be a nurse and work in the health care field, as well.
Court records show that there had been trouble in the family before. The suspect was arrested in 2008 for a misdemeanor domestic assault and later pleaded guilty to a disorderly conduct charge. That incident also took place at the Willow Ridge apartments in Vadnais Heights, where the slayings were discovered Wednesday.
Nyaringo's cousin had fled the scene of the deaths, and was arrested near Faribault by the State Patrol. A trooper happened on the suspect near a stalled car on Interstate 35, and took him into custody after he tried to run away. The third child, 4, was still in the vehicle, and further investigation found the father was wanted in connection with the deaths in the St. Paul suburb.
Fletcher said at a press briefing this morning that the suspect admitted his role in the killings after he was arrested. The suspect is currently being held in the Ramsey County jail and may face murder charges before the end of the week.
The Ramsey County Sheriff's Office and the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension are investigating.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)