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Mother strangled her 2 kids, hanged herself in suburban home, coroner says

Amanda Marrazzo and Robert McCoppin, Chicago Tribune on

Published in News & Features

CHICAGO -- Outside the town house with the boarded-up door, three teenage boys added a rosary and Christian medallion to a growing memorial of stuffed animals, candles and balloons.

"We wanted to show our respect," William Weck, 13, said Wednesday afternoon as a cold drizzle fell.

Another nearby resident, Kelly Klein, said her two daughters were having a hard time with the news: two children and their mother had been found dead in the Lake in the Hills home the previous day in what authorities said appeared to be a double murder-suicide.

A couple hours later, the news took another grim turn: Authorities announced their findings that the children, Ezequiel Garcia, 11, and his sister Ariana, 8 had been strangled, and that their mother, Carla Lopez-Mejia, 27, had then hanged herself.

"It is so heartbreaking," Klein said. "It brings tears to my eyes as a mom who is supposed to protect her children."

Police in the small McHenry County community, about 50 miles northwest of Chicago, said they were called to the town house at about 3 p.m. Tuesday, where first-responders found the remains.

Janaya Simmons, who lives in an adjoining town house, said her daughter normally rode the school bus with Ariana but that she didn't show up Tuesday.

Simmons called the Garcia children "full of energy" and said they liked to play outside no matter the weather. She recalled that, after a recent snowfall, her daughter built an igloo with Ariana and Ezequiel, whom Simmons called "Ezzie."

Anthony Romano, 14, another neighborhood boy, said the Garcia children "were very happy."

Simmons said she saw police outside the neighbors' town house Tuesday and later saw the children's father, as well as Lopez-Mejia's mother and brother, outside the home appearing distraught.

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