A father suspected of shooting his wife and disabled daughter before killing himself inside their rented villa on the Costa del Sol left a note apologising for the crime, according to local reports.
The dead man, named locally as Philip Wood, a British passport-holder born in Kenya, is thought to have killed his wife, Sheila, who had been ill, and his daughter Sophie, in her late 20s, and wrote that the burden of their care had become too much, according to Spanish reports.
He is believed to have covered the bodies with a sheet and then shot himself with the same gun. The bodies were found by the landlord at the villa in the popular mountainside town of Mijas, Fuengirola, after he went to investigate because the rent had not been paid for some time.
A Malaga-based government spokesman said: “The bodies of three people with bullet wounds have been found at a house near La Cala de Mijas. One of the hypotheses being probed is that it was a double murder and suicide, but autopsies will be carried out today to establish more.”
A Guardia Civil spokeswoman said: “The latest information we have is that the owner of the house had not heard from the family for a few days and had not been paid.
“He went to the house today and when there was no reply at the door, he went inside. Inside he saw the man dead on the sofa and immediately called the Guardia Civil. When officers inspected the house they found the wife and the daughter dead in a bedroom. The initial hypothesis at this early stage of the investigation is that this was a murder-suicide.”
It is thought that the three died from gunshot wounds inflicted by one of the adults. Mr and Mrs Wood, both in their 50s, and their daughter, were understood to have been living in the area for more than 15 years. The two women had Irish passports.
The Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin confirmed their nationality and said that officials were attempting to contact their next of kin.
The Foreign Office in London said that it was “liaising closely” with the local police and was ready to provide consular assistance.
Neighbours said that Mr Wood had once worked in a bank and as an estate agent, but the family was thought to have money problems. Police in Spain declined to comment on any note or any health problems.
“He [Philip Wood] used to drive a BMW and his wife had a nice car of her own, but then they sold them for a hired Opel they used to drive. In recent weeks I hadn’t seen them driving anything,” neighbour Elizabeth Van Heyningen, 66, told the Daily Mail. “A couple of weeks ago I saw him walking up the hill to his house with heavy bags of shopping. His wife had fallen ill in recent months and he often came round asking if I could do anything about another neighbour’s barking dog which was upsetting her.”
Garage owner Kevin Watts said: “They lived like hermits. They always kept the metal shutters on their windows down.”
Expat Suzanne Hughes, 58, originally from Manchester, said: “I heard three shots the other day... [but] put it down to someone shooting wild boar.”