A domestic dispute Sunday afternoon left three people dead in a St. Paul apartment that also housed as many as four children under the age of 10, St. Paul police reported.

Police said none of the children, who were in the apartment at the time of the killings, were injured. Police refused to say what, if anything, the children saw. They were described as being between the ages of 3 and 9.

Although police did not immediately classify it as a double murder-suicide, the department put out a release stating that investigators are not seeking any suspects.

Almost five hours after the initial call, police were still trying to determine what took place and why. Police said the investigation was slowed because the deceased were Hmong, and Hmong interpreters had to be called in to interview the children and other people at the scene.

Sgt. Paul Paulos, a police spokesman, said the dead were a husband and wife and one of her relatives. Police refused to confirm what relationship the children had with the couple, but neighbors said the children belonged to the building’s caretaker and his wife, who lived on the first floor.

Paulos said the children were taken by police and placed with relatives. Several neighbors said they saw the children being loaded into a police van.

“I saw them take all the children,” said Laurel Hilden, who lives upstairs in the building in the 500 block of Victoria Street N. “They belong to the caretaker.”

Charles Lockhart, who moved into the building in October, said he often saw the children waiting for the bus in the mornings.

Lockhart, like many neighbors, said he did not hear anything out of the ordinary and was surprised when police arrived — followed by ambulances.

Hilden, who has lived in the building for 23 years, said he left the building about 4:10 p.m. and heard the children yelling as he made his way out the door. He said the noise was that of kids playing and not the sound of distress.

He said he returned a short time later to discover the building and part of the street blocked off by police.

“I didn’t have any idea what happened,” he said as waited in a bar across the street. “When I came home, this is as far as I got.”

Paulos said police got the initial call about 4:30 p.m. regarding an “altercation.”

This is the latest in a series of domestic homicides that have hit the Twin Cities in the past few months.

Police confirmed no one was shot. But they would not provide the manner of death or whether any weapons were recovered.

Police spokesman Howie Padilla said that when police arrived they discovered two men and a woman dead in the apartment. The 911 call came from a neighboring apartment, police said.

Paulos said police have preliminary identifications of the dead but are waiting for the Ramsey County medical examiner’s office to make a positive identification.


dchanen@startribune.com 612-673-4465