(MIAMI) — Homicide police in Miami are investigating a triple slaying after a mother and her two daughters were discovered dead in a bedroom closet by a neighbor who smelled a foul odor.
The bodies were found at a home in northwest Miami Tuesday afternoon, said police, who have not publicly identified the victims.
But a family friend confirmed that Gladys Machado, 29, lived at the house with her two girls, Julia Padrino, 8, and Daniela Padrino, 6.
Olga Espinoza told ABC News that Machado also had a son, Michael, 6. The boy was found “safe and unharmed,” according to police.
He was safe with his grandmother, the Miami Herald reported.
“She was friendly. She was outgoing, and a wonderful mother,” Espinoza said through tears. “The little kids used to call me mom. Those kids were very friendly, very sweet. They were very attached to people. It’s just devastating how someone so cold blooded and cruel could do something like this.”
Miami-Dade police said they are investigating the deaths as a homicide. They have not yet released the cause or manner of death, which will be determined by the medical examiner. Investigators said that have not yet released the family’s identities, pending notification of other relatives.
The bodies were discovered Tuesday when the neighbor, who has not been named, entered Machado’s home and noticed an odd smell.
“The neighbor, who has access to the house, was in the house and smelled an odor that she wasn’t familiar with,” Miami-Dade Police spokesman Roy Rutland told ABC News. “She searched the house, and discovered the bodies inside the closet.”
Rutland said investigators who responded to the scene learned that there was a son who lived in the house. Police at first believed he was missing, but were soon able to track him down, he said.
Espinoza said she had known Gladys Machado for about six years from the Lil’ Pirates Learning Center, where both of their children attended child care. She said she last spoke with her Friday.
“I tried to contact her, and the phone went straight to voicemail, something that she never does, she would always call or text us back,” she said.
Machado, who worked as an administrative assistant for the Beauty Schools of America, Espinoza said, posted a message on her Facebook wall hours earlier that read, “Where this road goes no one knows.”
Machado had been separated from the father of her children for years, Espinoza said. She said Machado was dating someone else, but said she didn’t know much about him.
Neighbors told the Miami Herald that Machado was living with a boyfriend who was recently released from jail.
Police said they are following several leads in the case.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Ray Sanchez, CNN Newswire
Chuck Johnston, CNN Newswire