Did a Texas Mom Kill Her 2 Daughters and Herself — or Is a Killer on the Loose?

Nichol Olsen seemed to have the perfect life. The 37-year-old mother of three was a popular San Antonio hairdresser, an exercise enthusiast and had started a business selling watches and jewelry with two close friends. When she wasn't working, she doted on her two daughters: Alexa, a 16-year-old cheerleader at Clark High School, and 10-year-old London, a fifth grader at Leon Springs Elementary School.

"She loved those girls," says Olsen's friend Vanessa Turney. "She was incredibly proud of who they were as people."

Olsen made friends everywhere she went, including with rodeo competitor turned entrepreneur Charlie Wheeler. The two began dating after Wheeler spotted Olsen on Instagram, and later, she and her daughters moved into his sprawling home in the gated community of Anaqua Springs Ranch, Texas. 

And then tragedy struck. 

On the morning of Jan. 10, 2019, a frantic-sounding Wheeler called 911 to say he had found Olsen and her two girls dead inside the home. Wheeler told police he and Olsen had an argument the night before. He said he'd gone to a family member's house and returned the next day to find their bodies.

The coroner ruled the family's shooting deaths a murder-suicide. 

"It's crazy for anyone to think she would kill her daughters'," says Nichol's brother Justin. 

She was making plans for the future, was enrolling London in singing classes and was expecting a visit from her son that weekend. 

Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar announced his team was still investigating, but in the fall of 2020, he said investigators did not find anything to overturn the coroner's ruling. However, in January, he said the investigation was insufficient and reassigned the case to a cold case investigator. 

"Calling someone the murderer of their own children is the worst thing you could ever accuse anybody of," Salazar says in this week's issue of PEOPLE. "I'm not ready to do that yet."

Authorities say they have no suspects at this time.

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Meanwhile, the fathers of London and Alexa have filed separate wrongful death lawsuits against Wheeler, claiming he was negligent in the girls' deaths. In the lawsuit filed by London's father Hector Bribiescas, he alleges that after a lengthy argument with Olsen in which she was allegedly exhibiting "increasingly erratic behavior," Wheeler left the home knowing he'd left an unsecured firearm in his bedside table. 

For more on the tragic deaths of Olsen and her daughters, subscribe to PEOPLE now, or pick up this week's issue, on newsstands Friday.

Wheeler's criminal defense attorney Therese Huntzinger says Wheeler was "crushed" by the deaths. "Charlie has no responsibility, either criminally or civilly, in this matter," she says. "It's preposterous."

Alexa's father Carlos is sharing memories of Alexa with his newborn daughter. "We're looking at Alexa's picture on the wall everyday and I'm showing my infant daughter pictures of her bigger sister, knowing that she's never going to get to know who she was. And my oldest daughter's never going to get to see her baby sister not until we end up in heaven together. So it's going to be a little while, but we're having to deal with that. And it's hard, but it's part of the process. That's the life that I'm going to have to live."

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