NORTH BELLMORE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A couple found dead in their North Bellmore home had been going through marital and legal issues, police said.

Four children returning home from school around 3:30 p.m. Tuesday found their mother, 44-year-old Sherrelle Hayes, stabbed to death in the kitchen, police said.

The oldest child, a 13-year-old girl, ran from the Smith Avenue home screaming, “Mommy’s dead,” WCBS 880’s Mike Xirinachs reports.

WCBS 880’s Mike Xirinachs reports

Investigators arrived at the scene and found the children’s father, 43-year-old Thomas Hayes, dead in an upstairs bedroom, police said.

Officials believe Hayes stabbed his wife to death and then hanged himself.

Before the bodies were discovered, the couple’s oldest child had apparently come home alone and spoke to her father through a locked door.

The father told her to get her younger siblings and when the children returned they found a note on the door, saying “Mom and dad are hurt, please call 911,” CBS 2′s Carolyn Gusoff reported.

Neighbors are shocked over the tragedy, saying that there was no sign of a problem between the couple.

“They were a great family,” one man said. “Great kids, a great couple. It’s very sad what took place here. Great people. It’s so sad.”

“I always saw two or three little kids running around, and they seemed very happy,” Sarah Cole, a neighbor, said.

1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera reports

The couple was having marital problems and police said neighbors reported hearing them arguing Tuesday morning around 9 a.m.

“I heard him shouting early in the morning,” Christine Soto, another neighbor, told CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan. “I’m devastated, shocked.”

Det. Sgt. Greg Leismeister said Hayes, a construction engineer in Manhattan, was also facing jail time in a federal grand larceny case.

The close-knit community is rallying around the four children.

“When [the children] do come back, we will certainly address their needs and be very aware of it,” North Bellmore Superintendent of School Arnold Goldstein said. “And that’s an ongoing thing, cause this isn’t something you get over.”

The children — ages 7, 9, 10 and 13 —  are now staying with their grandparents.

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