EAST ST. LOUIS — Illinois State Police said Saturday investigators believe an East St. Louis man shot to death his wife and then killed himself while their children were home.
The bodies of Antionette Blanton Thomas, 24, and her husband, Bennie W. Thomas, 28, were found Friday afternoon in their kitchen at 640 N. 23rd St. by family members who had not heard from the couple.
The two children, a 1-year-old girl and a 3-year-old boy, were bloodied but not injured. They have been released to the custody of family members.
Based on comments from the 3-year-old child and evidence at the scene, police believe Bennie Thomas shot his wife and then himself, Illinois State Police Capt. James Morrisey said.
Each victim suffered a single gunshot wound to the chest.
The children were transported to Children's Hospital in St. Louis, examined and released.
A pistol, purchased by Antionette Blanton Thomas earlier this year, was found near the bodies and an initial examination indicates this was the weapon used in the shooting.
Police listed the female victim's name as Antoinette D. Blanton but her father, Anthony Richardson, said her name was Antionette Blanton Thomas.
The time of the shooting was not announced. East St. Louis police have said the shooting occurred days before the bodies were found.
The couple was last seen alive at church Wednesday.
Morrisey said the case remains under investigation.
On Friday, Richardson said his daughter was "super smart and very kind."
Richardson said he had urged his daughter to end her relationship with Bennie Thomas.
Also, he thanked all the people who have sought to comfort his family.