Three days after Julia Garvey and her two children, Benjamin, four, and Hannah, two, were killed, Mrs Garvey's husband, Dennis, was found drowned in Suffolk.
Lester Maddrell, the Cotswold coroner, recorded an open verdict on Mr Garvey, 38, and unlawful killing verdicts on Mrs Garvey and the two children. Mrs Garvey, 38, had been repeatedly battered about the head and the children died from asphyxiation.
Karen Miles, 21, said she let herself in to the family's house in Teddington, Gloucestershire, on 3 May to find a shoebox bearing a message 'call the police' in Mr Garvey's handwriting.
'I shouted 'Julia' but I got no answer. I ran upstairs to Ben's room. I went in and his face was purple.
'I shouted 'Julia' again and went into her room. She was in bed with the covers up over her. I went around the bed and I saw blood on the carpet . . . There was a wooden mallet on the pillow . . .'