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Police: Mom shot and killed her 3 kids as they slept

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Grand Forks, ND (WDAZ-TV)

They never had a chance to escape the bullets.

Police are trying to piece together the puzzle, why did a Grand Forks mother shoot and kill her kids in the middle of the night?

As the memorial continues to grow outside 1006 South 12th Street, so do the questions about why.

“This isn't easy for anybody, and no amount of training is going to prepare you to handle a call like this,” commented Grand Forks police lieutenant Brett Johnson.

What police know is how. They say 35-year-old Astra Volk shot and killed her 3 children, 6-year-old Arianna, 10-year-old Aidan and 14-year-old Tyler as they slept. She then turned the gun on herself. Police would not comment how many times the kids were shot. They said there was no indication they had a chance to escape their killer mom.

“We are not sure how much pre-planning went into this,” said Johnson.

Based on the evidence, mainly by going through phone calls, text messages and emails; the triple murder happened between 1:30 and 4:30 last Thursday morning, just hours before the bodies were discovered after the kids didn't show up at school. No suicide note was found in the home.

"We got quite a bit of evidence, I wouldn't call it an overwhelming amount, it's something we are definitely able to handle, it's just going to take a little while to make sure we don't leave any stones unturned,” explained Johnson.

One avenue being explored is the mental health of Astra Volk. Just a week before the triple murder she made a plea on a GoFundMe page to get money for psychiatric hospital stays for herself and her boys. 

“There were some mental health issues at play, they may have played into it and may be a portion of the why answers we are looking for,” said Johnson.

Another key to the investigation, where did Astra Volk get the gun? Friends tell us she was afraid of them. The ATF has been called in to help answer this question, especially with her documented mental health problems.

"We are working with the ATF to try and determine to see if she was prohibited or not,” commented Johnson.

Police say it will be weeks before they can attempt to close the case, but admit they may have to close it without all of the answers.

"Sometimes in situations like this there are no satisfactory answers, but we are going to try and determine why,” said Johnson.

Funeral arrangements were announced Monday for the children.

A memorial service will be held this Friday at 3 p.m. at Hope Covenant Church.

Visitation will be from 2 p.m.-3 p.m. before the funeral.