Police in Mississauga, Ont., say a house explosion in June that killed a married couple and forced hundreds from their homes was a double suicide.

The explosion on Hickory Drive levelled nearby houses and forced 69 families from their homes. Thirty-three of those families are still displaced.

Handwritten notes found near the blast site and the revelation that the male victim had served a sentence for homicide heightened curiosity about the cause.

Peel Regional Police Chief Jennifer Evans told reporters Friday that Diane Page, 55, and her husband Robert Nadler, also 55, were killed by “blunt force trauma consistent with having been near the epicentre of the explosion”

The chief said a team of investigators “ruled out accidental (causes), double murder and murder suicide” before concluding the June 28 incident was a double suicide.

Kevin Pahor, an investigator with the Office of the Ontario Fire Marshal, said metallurgic testing indicated the explosion was caused by “the intentional disconnect(ing) of the natural gas piping in two locations from the hot water tank.”

That act would have filled the house with gas which was then ignited by something like an electrical circuit or an open flame.

Notes indicated ‘depression’

One of the lead detectives on the case told reporters that notes found strewn outside the blast site helped lead them to their conclusion.

“The notes that were found indicated a state of mind which was consistent with somebody suffering some sort of depression,” said the investigator.

Although handwriting analysis failed to identify who wrote the notes, “context (suggests) they were written by Diane Page,” he added.

The detective said another indicator that it was a double suicide was the fact witnesses reported smelling gas an hour and a half before the explosion.

“Any individual that was inside the residence … would have easily been able to smell the gas, and had they wanted to exit would have had that opportunity,” he added.

The detective also revealed that a witness who knew the Nadlers said Robert had told him the couple was “suffering from some sort of cancer and didn’t have that long to live.” Toxicology reports did not indicate any cancer in the Nadlers, according to the detective.

The detective said more than 65 witnesses were interviewed during the six-month-long investigation.

Police Chief Evans told reporters that although Nadler had been convicted in 1982 in connection with a homicide and served nine years in prison, he had been complying with his parole conditions and “had no contact” with police since then.

33 families still displaced

Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie told reporters that 33 families remain displaced after the explosion.

City Councillor Chris Fonesca later told CTV News Channel that although some of those families could be back in their homes at the start of 2017, residents whose houses were completely levelled may have to wait up to eight more months.

“My hope is that everyone is back in their homes well before December 2017 so that there can be stability brought back to the community,” she said.