Kan. father killed children, self

January 15, 2009 7:57:50 AM PST
Authorities say a man in a small northeast Kansas town killed his three children, set their home on fire and shot himself. Osage County Sheriff Laurie Dunn says 52-year-old Michael L. Shirley committed suicide Monday after setting his Scranton home ablaze. Also dead are 14-year-old Ethan C. Shirley, 11-year-old Ashten C. Shirley, and 9-year-old Caleb Jackson Shirley.

The sheriff wouldn't specify how the children died. Michael Shirley's wife and the children's mother, Amy Shirley, was not home at the time.

Dunn said authorities are still investigating the motive. She said the fire was confined to the living room.

The deaths shocked the small town of about 725 residents, about 20 miles south of Topeka.