Autopsy: Mom and girls dead before Northfield house fire and explosion

Autopsy: Mom and girls dead before Northfield house fire and explosion
Mather family killed in house explosion. (Source: Facebook)

NORTHFIELD CENTER TOWNSHIP, OH - A preliminary autopsy report shows a mother and her two daughters found dead inside their Northfield home after an explosion were dead before the fire started.

The bodies of 43-year-olds Jeff and his wife Cindy Mather and their two daughters, 12-year-old Allison and 8-year-old Ruthie were all found in the home Jan. 11 in Northfield Center Township.

A Summit County Medical Examiner's statement Cleveland 19 was able to look at Wednesday, revealed only Jeff Mather had any evidence of smoke inhalation, and he appears to have died from burns and smoke inhalation. A report on carbon monoxide levels in his blood is still pending.

His wife and children had no signs of smoke inhalation, which likely means the three were dead before the fire started. The report indicated there were no obvious wounds, or other signs of trauma, to Cindy, Ruthie or Alyson. The report stated Cindy did have possible trauma to the neck, and Ruthie had brain swelling, but Cleveland 19 was told both of those things could have possibly happened due to the heat.

Other details Cleveland 19 learned from the medical examiner's report are heartbreaking. 8-year-old Ruthie Mather was wearing a necklace when she died, her older sister, 12-year-old Alyson, had likely eaten just a few hours before her death.

The report also indicated Cindy was healthy, with no signs of any sickness at the time she died.

How they died is still under investigation, but there are no obvious injuries.

Investigators are looking at murder suicide as a possible explanation for the arson and explosion. The Summit County Sheriff's Department said Wednesday their investigation is ongoing, and there is no update to release.

Jeff Mather was found in the remains of the home in family garage near a gas can. The husband may have also struggled with mental health issues: a report from Metroparks Police states in December 2015 he threatened to end his own life and was stopped after a man called 911.

The medical examiner's notes also revealed Jeff Mather was found wearing a gold band on his left ring finger, where one would normally wear a wedding band.  His wife Cindy wasn't wearing a ring, or any other jewelry.

At the time officials found the Cindy and her girls, they were near the front of the burned out home, with Cindy huddling over her two daughters.   

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