NEW YORK (AP) _ An Iranian immigrant who may have spent time in a Turkish prison killed his two young children before hanging himself from a doorjamb in his apartment, police said.

``He was healthy, spiritually,'' said Bill Mathison, a friend of the dead man. But, he added: ``The devil has his ways.''

The bodies of a 10-year-old boy, 8-year-old girl and their 51-year-old father were found Thursday morning in the apartment in the borough of Brooklyn, said Deputy Chief William Taylor of the Brooklyn detective squad.

``We believe the children were suffocated or poisoned. They were lying on a double bed with flowers on the bed,'' Taylor said.

The children's mother is in the U.S. military stationed in South Korea and police would not confirm their identities until she is notified.

Jacob Liebowitz, who runs a grocery store nearby, said the mother had been home in the spring and told him she was trying to become an officer so her husband and children could join her.

Published reports said the man may have been distraught because his wife was about to divorce him.

Police broke into the apartment after someone Taylor described as a ``health professional'' found a message on his answering machine, apparently from the father, and called authorities.

Taylor said the father left notes throughout the apartment written in either Arabic or Farsi. ``Apparently he was a very disturbed person,'' Taylor said.

Mathison said the father had been imprisoned in Turkey after the Islamic revolution in Iran, and had an adult daughter who had died there.