One person was detained early Wednesday in the killings of a Northern California mother and her two toddler children, authorities said.
The man was taken in for questioning around 2 a.m. at a Placer County Denny's restaurant after authorities spotted a white Chrysler minivan missing from the scene of the killings outside.
The man was believed to be in possession of the van, Sacramento County Sheriff's spokesman Jason Ramos said. He was being interviewed by homicide investigators.
The woman, who was in her 20s, and her 2-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter were found dead by the children's father on Tuesday afternoon at their Rancho Cordova home. Rancho Cordova is about 15 miles east of Sacramento.
"It's shocking, even to veteran law enforcement." After discovering the bodies, the children's father ran to a neighbor, who called police.
Ramos said officers found the "extremely distraught" man sitting in front of the house when they arrived. A 6 month-old infant was found crying inside a crib in the back of the house, authorities said.
The names of the man and the victims have not been released, though authorities said the family is of eastern European descent. Officers also questioned the father and the neighbor, though they have not been identified as suspects.
By early evening Tuesday, police and television reporters had poured into the block of ranch-style houses around the corner from an elementary school. Several television reporters said that the officers exiting the home were visibly shaken.
Ramos said officers "rarely see" a crime of this magnitude. "We're looking into everything; we have a mom and two kids dead," he said.