The man investigators said killed his wife and two daughters in a Stafford County home Thursday called 911 to report three murders and a suicide at the address that morning.
That same young father made headlines last year after he disappeared days before his graduation.
Lance Buckley, 35; his wife, Amy, 30; their 5-year-old daughter, Claire Buckley, and 17-month-old daughter, Abigail Buckley, were found dead inside a home in the Windsor Forest subdivision in the northwestern part of the county, according to the sheriff.
Police said Lance Buckley called police Thursday morning to report three murders and a suicide at the address. He identified himself and hung up the phone.
When deputies arrived, they found the bodies in the lower level of the home.
In May 2015, Lance Buckley sparked a missing person search across the region. He disappeared after using a slug line to commute to Howard University, where he was enrolled in a Ph.D. program. He was on his way to campus to pick up graduation materials.
"Sluggers" are commuters who wait for rides from strangers who can then use high-occupancy vehicle lanes on freeways.
Three days later, Lance Buckley was found safe at a campground near Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. At the time, the sheriff's office did not provide information about why Buckley had gone missing.
Neighbor Ruth Martin said she was shocked by the crime in the quiet neighborhood.
"Stunned. Just stunned," she said.
Claire Buckley was a student at Rockhill Elementary School in Stafford. A grief responders' team will be available at the school Friday to help students and staff cope with the loss, the school said in a statement Friday.