JEFFERSON PARISH, LA (WVUE) - We are learning new information about the hours leading up to the murder-suicide of a mother and her two children. The bodies of Michelle McCullum and her 3-year-old daughter Cylie and her 5-year-old son Caden were discovered Thursday morning on Old Gentilly Road.
New Orleans Police say McCullum shot her children then turned the gun on herself. "At some point the victim stated that she had been feeling homicidal and suicidal, that she was armed with a firearm and intended to take the lives of the children and her own life," said New Orleans Police Chief Michael Harrison.
NOPD tells FOX 8 they received a call from a family member with that information around 12:30 a.m. Thursday. We're told investigators immediately issued a "be on the lookout" alert and started looking for them. "We worked throughout the evening to find her. We had access to her cell phone, which was powered down and we were not able to track it," Harrison said.
Just before 7:30 a.m. Thursday, the Louisiana State Police issued a Level II endangered missing children advisory. We wanted to know why that alert wasn't issued earlier. State Police say they weren't notified by New Orleans Police about the endangered children until shortly after 5 a.m..
Both NOPD and State Police say they have to work together to gather information and descriptions about the missing, as well as the car they might be in before they can issue an alert. "We rely on what that other agency tells us, and the other agency, the requesting agency, I should say is going to be the lead in that investigation, and we go off of the information that they receive when they are on the scene," said Louisiana State Police Trooper Melissa Matey.
State Police say an Amber Alert wasn't issued because they didn't believe the children had been abducted. That's because the children were with their custodial parent, and they were all believed to still be in the New Orleans area. "There is certain criteria that Louisiana State Police follows, or guidelines that we follow, that are recommended by the national system for the Amber Alert. So therefore, again, this case did not meet the criteria for an Amber Alert," Matey said.
New Orleans police say each call has to be evaluated. We're told detectives often investigate first before putting out a statewide alert. In this case, they say they worked with two other districts to check spots where family members thought McCullum and her two children might be.