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Last updated on Saturday, August 18, 2012
(MICHIGAN CITY) - A man whose wife and two children were found stabbed to death in their Michigan home after he was killed in a wrong-way crash on an Indiana interstate had tried to take his own life before, police said.
Michael VanDerLinden, 33, was driving westbound in the eastbound lanes of Interstate 94 near Michigan City early Thursday when he hit another vehicle head-on, killing Juan Nelson Jr., 45, of Portage.
When police in Michigan went to VanDerLinden's home in suburban Detroit, they found his wife, Linda, 34, and their 4-year-old and 7-year-old sons stabbed to death.
Van Buren Township police Capt. Gregory Laurain said Friday that autopsies showed Linda VanDerLinden died of strangulation, but had been stabbed in the chest, while 7-year-old Julien VanDerLinden and his 4-year-old brother, Matthew, were stabbed multiple times in the chest and arms.
Police said they recovered the weapon they believe was used in the stabbings, an 8 1/2-inch butcher knife, in the kitchen sink.
Laurain said police do suspect Michael VanDerLinden in the killings of his wife and children.
Family friends said that Michael VanDerLinden suffered from depression and had tried to take his life in December by ingesting sleeping pills and alcohol.
Linda VanDerLinden filed a domestic assault report against her husband that night, police said.
"She commented that she was going to leave the residence, he was emotional at that time, didn't want her to leave," Laurain said. "He grabbed her by the arms and shook her and pleaded with her not to leave. She still left."
Laurain said that since Michael VanDerLinden only shook his wife, it was filed as simple touching, and when police submitted a warrant request, the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office denied it the next day.
Police began looking through the family's computers Fridays for clues to what happened.
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