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The Calvert County Sheriff’s Office continued its investigation of an apparent Tuesday morning murder-suicide in Owings that left two adults and a 2-year-old child dead and a 12-year-old boy in critical condition in the hospital.

Frank Hayward Jr., 32, murdered his wife, Cynthia, 31, and their 2-year-old daughter, Natalee, before taking his own life, police said. Frank Hayward III, 12, was found alive inside the home and hospitalized for cuts to his neck and burns.

“This is an extremely unusual event here in Calvert County,” Sheriff Mike Evans said. “We take domestic violence very serious.”

According to information provided by the sheriff’s office, the sheriff’s Special Operations Team, the Calvert Investigative Team, the Calvert County State’s Attorney’s Office and Maryland State Police Prince Frederick Barrack troopers responded at 8:26 a.m. Tuesday morning to a home in the 1800 block of Candlelight Court in Owings for a domestic disturbance.

Evans said at a press conference Tuesday afternoon that when they arrived, SOT members found “no sign of movement in the house” and a witness had said that Frank Hayward Jr. had a gun inside the house. Several unsuccessful attempts to reach the occupants of the home were made by the sheriff’s office hostage negotiation team. Evans said SOT members decided to enter the house and discovered the house was on fire.

The fire was set in the master bedroom, Evans said, where Cynthia and Natalee Hayward were found dead and Frank Hayward III was found alive and suffering from cuts to his neck and severe burns. Frank Hayward Jr. was found dead in the bathroom on the first floor, Evans said. Frank Hayward III was flown by MSP helicopter to Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., where he was reported Wednesday to be in critical condition.

There was another adult relative of the Hayward’s, a great aunt, present in the home at the time who escaped without injury, Evans said.

Evans said “we suspect [the victims] were shot first and then the fire was set.” When SOT members arrived on scene, Evans said, they did not hear gunshots but did find a handgun inside the home and detectives believe it was used in the crime.

“By all accounts, this was a domestic situation, but it’s still under investigation,” Evans said. “However, it does appear to be a homicide-suicide committed by the 32-year-old male [Frank Hayward Jr.], who we believe took his own life.”

According to a sheriff’s office press release issued Wednesday morning, Frank Hayward Jr. called his employer earlier in the morning and said he was going to kill himself. The employer contacted Frank Hayward Jr.’s cousin, who immediately drove to the Hayward home and then called the police. The incidents that took place between those times are still under investigation, the press release states.

“We are deeply saddened by this tragic event,” Evans said. “Our hearts and prayers go out to [the family]. ... We’ll investigate this case to get all the facts of exactly what happened.”

Cynthia Hayward’s Facebook page says she was a customer service representative at Anne Arundel Medical Center.

Anne Arundel Health System released a statement Wednesday afternoon stating the company “extend[s] our hearts and prayers to the victims and families involved” in Tuesday’s events.

Cynthia Hayward worked for the medical center starting in 2006 in the AADI Breast Center, according to the statement, and since 2010 worked in the Outpatient Infusion Center as a “vital, highly regarded” employee.

Cynthia Hayward’s Facebook page says she and Frank Hayward were married Oct. 14, 1999. In her “about me” section, the Facebook page says, “I have a wonderful husband Frank. We have two children Lil Frank and Natalee.”

Online records indicate Cynthia Hayward filed for limited divorce from Frank Hayward in June 2007 and a judgment for such was granted Sept. 13 that same year.

Amber Teague, attorney for Davis, Upton, Palumbo & Dougherty LLC, said limited divorce is available for people who are considering divorcing and have children younger than 18.

Before the absolute divorce process starts, couples are required to be separated for an entire year, Teague said. Couples with children younger than 18 who may need the court’s help to work out issues such as child support, child custody, alimony or who gets to stay in the marital home, may file for limited divorce so those issues can be worked out in the limited divorce process, which takes a year.

Teague said often, couples file for limited divorce and then reconcile and “nothing happens. The case just sits in the courthouse.” After Cynthia Hayward filed for limited divorce in 2007, there is no record indicating she filed for absolute divorce.

In September 2007, Cynthia Hayward filed for a domestic violence protective order in Anne Arundel County District Court against her husband. A hearing was held and closed five days after the order was filed, according to online records.

A temporary protective order was granted to Cynthia Hayward against her husband in Annapolis District Court on Sept. 10, 2007, according to online records.

Legal representation for Frank and Cynthia Hayward was not listed in online court records.

The Haywards bought their Candlelight Court home in December 2010, according to information provided on the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation website. The two-story, single-family home was listed for sale in May on several real estate sites.

In May, an anonymous call was made to the sheriff’s office about a possible domestic disturbance at the Haywards’ home, Evans said. When deputies arrived, Evans said Cindy Hayward and her two children were OK.

A “Prayer Wall for Frank Hayward the 3rd & Family” was created on Facebook Tuesday afternoon for people to leave “positive thoughts and prayers.” Thursday morning, hundreds of people had posted on the wall wishing Frank Hayward III a speedy recovery.

Susan Hayward, who identified herself as Frank Hayward III’s aunt, wrote on the Facebook page Wednesday evening and said everyone’s “prayers of love and for miracles are working! Little Frank Hayward is improving and is expected to pull through. He continues his struggle of survival and his challenges shall be many.”

After news of Tuesday’s incident spread throughout the community, a local band and the Dunkirk Volunteer Fire Department decided to turn two events into benefits for Frank Hayward III.

The Dunkirk VFD had planned its first Cash Bash fundraiser for Sept. 22 and after Tuesday’s events, fundraiser organizers Chris Mills and Toby Sealey decided they wanted to “help out as much as we could” and donate 10 percent of the proceeds raised from the Cash Bash to Frank Hayward III.

“We like to help the community … and we want to give back,” Mills said.

The fundraiser will be held from noon to 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 22, and tickets are $100, which includes an all-you-can-eat buffet. Cash prizes will be given at the event and there will also be raffles, pull-tabs and door prizes. For more information, go to www.supportdunkirk5.org.

The Travis Adams Band, a local country and southern rock band, was scheduled to perform Friday, Aug. 10, at Anthony’s Bar and Grill in Dunkirk. On Wednesday, the band said the performance will be turned into a benefit for Frank Hayward III “to give him a good start to a very hard road of recovery to a new beginning.”

The band will take the stage at 9 p.m. Friday, according to the band’s Facebook page, and the event will include T-shirt sales and a raffle. A percentage of proceeds will be donated to Frank Hayward III’s family.

Attempts to contact family and friends were not successful as of press time.

kfitzpatrick@somdnews.com