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The Grand Rapids Press
on August 19, 2015 at 5:10 PM, updated August 19, 2015 at 9:14 PM
GRAND TRAVERSE COUNTY, MI — A husband and wife found dead with their two young children in their Northern Michigan home both had histories of apparent suicidal thoughts and depression, police records show.
Grand Traverse County sheriff’s deputies released past police reports Wednesday, Aug. 19, that offer more insight into the Aug. 13 discovery of the bodies.
The bodies of Tamisha Mendenhall, 34; her husband, Jeffrey Mendenhall, 54; and their children, Thomas, 6, and Olivia, 3, were found after police came to the home to conduct a welfare check.
The father had not shown up for work.
The children were posed together inside a bedroom, with flowers and stuffed animals in their arms.
Their father’s body was partially in the hallway. His body did not show any signs of a struggle, leading police to suspect he committed suicide. Police have not yet been able to determine if one or both parents played a role in the children’s deaths, but say the mother was the last one alive and that she killed herself.
Police initially described the scene as a murder-suicide situation.
The police records released Wednesday show that officers were called at least three times in the past in reference to the family and possible suicidal actions.
The most recent time was in February 2013 when deputies investigated a reported overdose of anti-depressants involving Tamisha Mendenhall.
At the time, Jeffrey Mendenall told deputies that both he and his wife had “dealt with depression and other mental disorders” and they were having financial issues.
The husband found a letter, believed to be a suicide note, that talked about how she loved her family and friends, but could not take care of them.
Police filled out a petition for hospitalization that typically involves a mental evaluation.
Police also responded to the couple’s Garfield Township home in July 2012 on a report of a suicidal person.
In that case, the couple was not yet married. Tamisha told police that her boyfriend was missing, that she believed he had taken a butcher knife from the kitchen and that he had left an apparent suicide note on the kitchen table.
Police at that time also found a note on a computer screen to Mendenhall’s brother.
Mendenall showed up later at the family’s home and told police that he felt suicidal. At that time, police also wrote a petition for hospitalization for him.
The first police response was on June 1, 2008 and also involved Jeffrey Mendenall as a possible suicidal subject. In the report, police said he had been diagnosed with clinical depression.
Tamisha told police that her then-boyfriend, Mendenhall, had left a note on the dining room table that detailed “basic last wishes and patient advocacy directions.”
She had last seen him May 30 and was worried about his welfare.
Police later discovered that Mendenhall was in the Detroit area, but was on his way back to Grand Traverse County. He had taken a gun with him.
Grand Traverse County sheriff’s investigators say they continue to look into the suspected murder-suicide.
Detectives say it’s important for surviving family members and the community to find answers.
E-mail John Tunison: email@example.com and follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/johntunison