The Tempe Police Department today says it believes that Glenn Edward Baxter, driver of a vehicle that crashed into Tempe Town Lake early Sunday morning and killed his entire family, plunged his car into the water intentionally.
"Detectives have been working around the clock on this investigation," Tempe Police Lieutenant Michael Pooley says in a statement, and new evidence shows that the vehicle's driver "took deliberate actions when he drove his family into the Tempe Town Lake."
Police say they have surveillance of the incident from a nearby condominium complex, and according to Pooley, who spoke to reporters Monday evening, the video shows: “the Silver Nissan Armada parked near the condominiums [and] Mr. Baxter [getting] out of the driver's side of the vehicle, [walking] down to the lake, [coming] back to the vehicle.”
Pooley says a few minutes later, video shows that Glenn Baxter “backed the vehicle up, and [drove] it at a high rate of speed towards the lake, down the side walk making an abrupt left turn towards the lake.”
At that point, “the vehicle hit a little curb and [flipped] over onto its backside into the water,” Pooley adds.
He says much is still unknown about the situation, but that the Tempe PD is confident “Mr. Baxter took deliberate action driving his family into that lake.”
Yesterday's incident at Tempe Town Lake is being investigated as a murder-Suicide. More details being released this evening.— Tempe Police (@TempePolice) October 19, 2015
Shortly after midnight on Sunday morning, witnesses reported seeing a silver SUV drive into the lake near the Scottsdale Bridge, which is one of the few areas where barricades wouldn't prevent a vehicle from going over the embankment and into the water.
Police responded to the scene about 12:15 a.m., and after diving into the dark water, pulled out an adult male, an adult female, and two toddlers. All four were unconscious and were transported to a hospital, where they were later pronounced dead.
After authorities were able to identify the adult female as 25-year-old Phoenix resident Danica Baxter, they realized one of her three children was unaccounted for and returned to the lake. About 10 a.m., an officer removed the Baxter's eldest son, who was still strapped in to his car seat in the far backseat of the vehicle.
Tempe police released the names of the deceased late Sunday night — Glenn Edward Baxter, 27; mother Danica, 25; Reighn Baxter, 3; Nazyiah Baxter, 2; and Zariyah Baxter, 1 — but said the entire incident was still under investigation.
Various relatives and friends of the Baxters started two GoFundMe accounts, one of which hypothesized that the situation was a murder-suicide:
"It is with a heavy heart that I am reporting the tragic news of the murder today of 25-year-old Danica Baxter, her 3 year old son Reighn, 2 year old son Naziyah and one year old daughter Zariyah. All four of them, including the perpetrator (Father), were killed in a murder/suicide car crash into Tempe Town Lake today," the page, which has since been removed, stated.
"According to the family, she was trying to leave her husband of four years.They had been separated for several months and her husband, who had a history of anger issues, was distraught at their separation and planned and executed the murder of his entire family in Tempe Town Lake. Danica was a loving mom who took care of her kids and worked hard to provide a good life for them. She was a supervisor at a company and lived on the strait and narrow. All she wanted, was a better life for her and her kids which is why she choose to leave an abusive relationship with her husband."
The Tempe PD confirms it is investigating the situation as a murder-suicide and says it's working with the Maricopa County medical examiner's office and relatives of the family to get more details.
Pooley confirms that Danica and Glenn were separated, adding that the two had met Sunday evening to discuss custody issues.
As for why Danica and the children were in the car at the end, Pooley says: “We don't know what was going through her mind. I can only imagine that she was with her three children, and any mother, any parent, they are not going to leave their children alone with somebody they believe would do this.”