Investigators have released the identities of a woman and her two children in a double murder-suicide that has left emergency responders and a west Ottawa neighbourhood reeling.

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Police were called to a Stittsville house at 25 Granite Ridge Dr. on Monday at about 5:30 p.m. ET after a man returned home and discovered the bodies of his wife and two children in the basement.

The confirmed victims are 40-year-old Alison Easton and her two children, six-year-old Katie (Katheryn) Corchis and 10-year-old Alex (Jon Alexander) Corchis.

Police sources said two notes were left inside the home — one for the father and another for Ottawa police.

Investigators believe Easton killed her children and then herself. No charges are expected to be laid.

The murder weapon was a knife, police sources confirmed.

The deaths have rocked the west Ottawa community. Both children attended Stittsville Public School just across the street from their home, and the family was well known by neighbours.

Absent from school Monday

In a news conference Tuesday, Ottawa police Insp. John Maxwell told reporters that both children were absent from school on Monday.

Maxwell also said police had "minor contact" with the Corchis family in the past for small neighbourhood complaints. He wouldn't go into detail, but insisted they weren't domestic in nature and that they shed no light on what happened Monday.

The first responders who arrived at the scene Monday were given critical incident counselling once police arrived and took over. Maxwell said it's been hard for many of the people involved.

"I want to say that it was actually

[firefighters] and [paramedics] who arrived first, before the police, and thank god there are men and women out there who go into the darkness like we do," he said. "The first officers on the scene, most of them have families. This is very, very difficult."

Investigators are continuing to piece together exactly what happened and why, Maxwell said.

"We'll be speaking to any friends and family, acquaintances of the family, in case they can shed any light on the cause of this," Maxwell said.

As for the father, Jon Corchis, Maxwell told reporters he finds it difficult to talk about how he's doing.

"God bless him and hope that he can make it through this," Maxwell said. "He was completely, totally devastated last night. I feel badly even talking about him, because it's like I'm making mileage on his tragedy, and I don't want to do that."

Grief counsellors help school 'in mourning'

Grief counsellors were called to Stittsville Public School Tuesday to help students and staff, according to the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board.

Police officers were also on hand to help staff and students.

"I would like to extend our sincere condolences to the family and friends of the Corchis family who were affected by this tragedy," read a statement from director of education Jennifer Adams.

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A local couple left their condolences on a note with flowers to Jon Corchis, who found his wife and two children dead in their home. (Ryan Gibson/CBC)

"The Stittsville Public School community is in mourning and a tragic events response team has been put in place at the school to provide assistance, counselling and other support to students and staff to assist them in their healing process."

One neighbour, Tonya Marczak, said her daughter was Katie's best friend. She said it was difficult knowing how to relay the news to her children.

"I honestly don't know what to tell them at this point," she said.

"To hear that there's three dead, it's just devastating. I don't understand how this happens, I don't, especially when I've got little kids of my own."

Mother was Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinator

Easton was often seen walking her children to and from school, according to neighbour Jeff Wilk, where the girl was in kindergarten and the son was in Grade 5.

The mother was also a Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinator and stay-at-home mother, Wilk added.

An autopsy was scheduled for the mother on Tuesday and for the children on Wednesday. The bodies were removed from the home Monday night. 

The major crimes unit is handling the ongoing investigation.