Coroner rules murder-suicide in deaths of Elkhart couple found in minivan

ELKHART, Ind. — The deaths of a northern Indiana couple whose bodies were found in a parked minivan near their home were a murder-suicide, authorities said Monday.

Coroners have ruled the death of Susana Alvarez, 31, a homicide and determined that Alberto Avelino, 38, died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Office said. Alvarez, who also was shot once in the head, was in the vehicle’s passenger seat when the bodies were found Saturday afternoon.

Capt. Jeff Siegel said in a news release that the gun used in both deaths was found in the minivan. The release did not mention a possible motive.

Alvarez and Avelino, of Elkhart, were in a relationship together and had five children, the release said.

The couple and their children lived in a mobile home on the city’s west side, about two blocks from where their bodies were found. Friends and family became concerned when the couple hadn’t been heard from since Friday evening, but Siegel said the sheriff’s office had not received a missing persons report for them.

The couple’s children put crosses in the ground during a vigil Sunday and left mementos nearby that included Goldfish snack crackers and a doll, The Elkhart Truth reported.

Elkhart County resident Delia Vazquez said a GoFundMe page has been set up to help pay for the funeral and expenses related to the children, who are staying with relatives in the Elkhart area.