DETROIT -- A woman and two children found dead in a suburban Detroit home when officers went to notify her of her husband's death in a fatal crash were stabbed with a butcher knife, police said Friday.

Police said officers entered the two-story home after finding the door ajar and getting no response. They found the bodies of Linda VanDerLinden and her two sons in separate bedrooms.

Van Buren Township police Capt. Gregory Laurain said an autopsy showed Linda VanDerLinden, 34, died of strangulation but had been stabbed in the chest. Her sons, Julien VanDerLinden, 7, and Matthew VanDerLinden, 4, had been stabled multiple times in the chest and arms.

Investigators believe an 8 1/2-inch butcher knife found in the kitchen sink was the weapon used in the stabbings, Laurain said.

Officers went to the home on Thursday to tell Linda VanDerLinden that her husband, Michael VanDerLinden, 39, had died in a crash in Indiana. While the medical examiner's office couldn't pinpoint when Linda VanDerLinden and her sons died, investigators are looking at whether Michael VanderLinden killed them before committing suicide by driving the wrong way on an interstate, instantly killing a stranger as he slammed into the man's car.

Michael VanDerLinden is "absolutely" suspected of killing his family, Laurain said. But he added, "We're following up on the leads. While the husband, Michael, is suspected of being responsible for the killings, we have not reached any conclusion, and our investigation is still continuing."

Police are looking into family issues as a possible motive for the slayings, Laurain said. Firefighters were called to the home in Wayne County's Van Buren Township in November after Michael VanDerLinden took some pills in an apparent suicide attempt.

He and the other driver, 45-year-old Juan Nelson, Jr., of Portage, Ind., were killed Thursday in the pre-dawn crash on Interstate 94 near Michigan City, not far from the Michigan state line, said John Sullivan, the coroner in LaPorte County, Ind.

Indiana State Police said Michael VanDerLinden had just left a highway rest area and was traveling eastbound in the westbound lanes of the freeway when he hit Nelson's car. The crash closed two westbound lanes of I-94 for several hours.

"We know from Indiana State Police, according to one of their witnesses, the vehicle that he was driving had its headlights turned off while on I-94 and at the time of the accident," Laurain said. "We don't know why. We don't know if it was intentionally or accidentally."

An evidence technician went through Michael VanDerLinden's vehicle after the crash but didn't find anything valuable as evidence, Laurain said. Both cars burst into flames after the collision.

Also on HuffPost:

Loading Slideshow...
  • In June, 2012, police searching for <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/02/detroit-baby-dies_n_1643170.html?utm_hp_ref=mostpopular,detroit-crime" target="_hplink">missing one-year-old Zyia Turner found her dead in a closet</a> under a pile of clothes at her family's home. Her mother left her in her grandmother's care, who in turn left her at home with an uncle while doing errands. Grandmother Bridget Elam says it must have been an accident and her son had helped raise his other nieces and nephews.

  • Latonya Bowman was allegedly abducted at gunpoint by ex-boyfriend Jamal Rogers (shown) and Antonio Mathis, who drove her to a field, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/29/latonya-bowman-gives-birth_n_1553301.html?utm_hp_ref=detroit-crime" target="_hplink">doused her in lighter fluid and set her on fire before shooting her</a>. Bowman reportedly played dead and is expected to recover despite suffering burns. She gave birth to a boy on May 29, 2012 via emergency cesarean section hours before Rogers and Mathis were arraigned on charges of attempted murder and other crimes. (AP Photo/Warren Police Department)

  • In April 2012, five men were <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/07/abreeya-brown-ashley-conaway-case-abduction-murder-hamtramck-5-men-charged_n_1409930.html?utm_hp_ref=detroit-crime" target="_hplink">charged with the abduction and slaying of Abreeya Brown and Ashley Conaway</a>, two friends and roommates who lived in Hamtramck. The men allegedly kidnapped the women at gunpoint and put them in the trunk of a car.

  • After William and Brenda Evans, a couple living on the east side of Detroit, were killed in their home in May, their daughter Tierra Evans claimed they were <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/17/william-and-brenda-evans-killed-lottery-ticket_n_1524616.html?utm_hp_ref=mostpopular,detroit-crime" target="_hplink">killed over a lottery ticket</a>. While the Detroit Police Department believed drugs were involved, Tierra Evans denied drug involvement. Instead, she said her father was known as "Dollar Bill" in the neighborhood for his lottery luck and it was known that he had a winning ticket.

  • In April 2012, 19-year-old Brian Douglas White<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/05/killed-ex-girlfriend-mom-self_n_1405327.html?utm_hp_ref=detroit-crime" target="_hplink"> snapped after his girlfriend broke up with him</a> and allegedly killed his ex's new boyfriend, Jacob Burns, and her mother, Angela Staperfene, before fatally shooting himself. White's ex-girlfriend reportedly suffered injuries but survived the attack.

  • Two-year-old <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/14/dandre-louis-lane-felony-murder-bianca-jones-missing-detroit-two-year-old-_n_1344966.html" target="_hplink">Bianca Jones went missing in December 2011</a>, when father D'Andre Louis Lane reported his car stolen from a gas station with his daughter inside. The car was recovered, but Jones was not there and was not found after lengthy searches. In March, Lane was charged with his daughter's murder as well as child abuse. In the photo, Bianca Jones' mother Banika Jones holds a photo and missing poster of her daughter in Detroit, Monday, Dec. 5, 2011. (Paul Sancya / AP Photo)

  • Clayton Carter, owner of Can You Picture This, holds a T-shirt made in memory of Demesha Hunt, 24, left, and Renisha Landers, 23, right, on Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2011, in Detroit. Hunts' and Landers' bodies were found Dec. 19, 2011, in a car trunk in Detroit. Police discovered the badly burned bodies of two other women on Sunday, Dec. 25, 2011, in a car trunk. Police have said three of the four women had promoted themselves as escorts through the same website, Backpage.com. In May 2012, police <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/02/detroit-escort-murders-backpage_n_1470229.html?utm_hp_ref=detroit-crime" target="_hplink">arrested two men in Sterling Heights</a> and held them for questioning as part of their investigation. (David Runk / AP Photo)

  • As the Movement electronic music festival took place in May in Detroit, a shooter opened fire in a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/29/downtown-detroit-shooting-crowd-movement_n_1552546.html?utm_hp_ref=detroit-crime" target="_hplink">downtown crowd near the Renaissance Center</a>, killing one man and injuring two others. The police department says the music festival was not linked to the shooting.

  • In May 2012, Detroit Police officers <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/15/detroit-police-shoot-72-year-old-man-knife_n_1517760.html?utm_hp_ref=detroit-crime" target="_hplink">shot a 72-year-old man three times</a>. They allege he charged at them with a knife.

  • In February 2012, a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/27/14-year-old-son-shoots-mom-detroit-tamiko-robinson_n_1304705.html" target="_hplink">14-year-old boy allegedly shot his mother to death as she slept</a> after she had not let him hang out with friends earlier. She was reportedly sleeping on a couch while her fiancé and 5-year-old daughter slept in another room.

  • In February 2012, a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/27/6-year-old-boy-shot-critical_n_1304120.html" target="_hplink">6-year-old boy was shot and critically injured</a> after <a href="http://www.freep.com/article/20120227/NEWS01/120227054/Two-teens-in-custody-for-carjacking-spree-shooting-6-year-old" target="_hplink">two teenage boys allegedly attempted a carjacking</a> on Detroit's east side.