A preliminary investigation into a house fire that killed a mother and two of her children indicates it's a case of murder-suicide and arson, authorities said Friday.
LaSalle County officials said 11-year-old Jordan M. Shepard and 9-year-old Jake R. Shepard were killed before their mother, 36-year-old Jennifer L. Shepard, turned a blade on herself.
Their bodies were found in an upstairs bedroom Thursday night after a firefighters put out a fire that completely destroyed their home, located in the small town of Grand Ridge.
Autopsies performed Friday revealed the trio had stab and/or cutting wounds, and a weapon was recovered at the scene, according to a report by the LaSalle County Sheriff's Office and Coroner's Office.
Witnesses said the father arrived on the scene of the fire and tried to come to his family's rescue.
"The house was pretty well engulfed. The father was here. He saw the house fire, called it in as he was about a mile away, he saw the flames," said LaSalle County Sheriff Tom Templeton.
The incident remains under investigation by the Sheriff's Office, Coroner's Office and Illinois State Fire Marshal's Office. Authorities are awaiting the final autopsy and toxicology results as well as the Arson Investigators report.