HOUSTON -

Three young children have lost their mother after a murder-suicide in north Houston, police said.

The parents were newlyweds, just shy of their five-month anniversary, but friends say the husband was abusive and Wednesday night's deadly shootings were the end to what they say had been a cycle of violence.

Just after 2 a.m. Thursday police were called to the Oxford Place apartments on Berry Road and Melrose Street. When they arrived, police said they found a man and woman dead in an upstairs bedroom. Their three children -- Neiria, 7, Torian, 6, and 1-year-old Paris -- were physically unharmed.

"We know that the 7-year-old was the one who heard the gunshot. We believe she reported she heard two. She ran out of the home to a neighbor's house and asked to call police," HPD Homicide Detective J.T. Barringer said.

Brittnee Phillips was that neighbor. She said she was close friends with the children's mother, 27-year-old Candace Williams.

Phillips said she answered a knock at the door Wednesday night and now she cannot get the images of her dead friend and her husband out of her head.

"Her baby came running to my door. I was asleep. (She was) Running to the door saying, 'My mama's dead, my mama's dead!' And I didn't know what to do," said Phillips. "I just got up and ran and put some clothes on and went down there.  Her body and his body were on the floor and the baby was in the room."

Phillips says Williams had recently started a new job where she was working with children.

Friends say the couple married in February despite an on-and-off relationship, including physical fights. That had neighbors calling police. Friends say they feared for Candace's life and tried to warn her.

"We tried to let her know love doesn't hurt, if a person has to hit you, you don't need to be with them," said Brenda Simmons.

Police say a gun was found near the bodies and a toddler was in the room.

The Harris County Medical Examiner's Office is conducting autopsies to confirm the cause of death.

The three children are now in the care of relatives.