The man who authorities say admitted he gunned down his wife and twin boys Saturday, remained in the hospital Sunday morning unable to make his first appearance before a judge, according to Palm Beach County Sheriff's officials and representatives from the State Attorney's office.

It was unclear whether it was the drugs in his system or the injuries from a car crash that kept him there.

What friends, family and authorities do say is that it appears that as Neal Jacobson sank deeper and deeper into depression, something terrible was building inside him.

The once successful mortgage broker from New Jersey left his company and moved to Florida to care for his ailing father, who died in 2007. Jacobson, 49, lost money in bad investments and hated himself despite his beautiful wife and brilliant twin sons, he confided in his best friend, Richard Norton.

When Norton died of cancer this month, it pushed him farther off his axis, said Norton's wife, Laurie.

Less than a week after his friend's funeral, Jacobson took up a gun and shot and killed his wife, Franki, 53, and 7-year-old boys, Eric and Joshua, according to a family member and Palm Beach County Sheriff's investigators.

Their bodies were found in the Jacobsons' sprawling single-story home Saturday, the day 12 families were supposed to celebrate Eric and Joshua's seventh birthday. They had planned a party at Fun Depot in Lake Worth.

Sherri Kazanchian remembered the excitement in her older sister's voice Friday, when, during one of their daily phone calls, Franki told her about the laser tag the boys were going to play.

"She said to me, 'Sherri, all I'm going to think about is the look in my sons' eyes when they laugh and have a good time,' " Kazanchian said by phone from her home in Las Vegas. "She would always tell me that was her joy, watching her sons."

After killing his family, Jacobson drove his 2002 GMC Envoy south from his $765,798 home, at 11580 South Sea Court in the gated Isles neighborhood, and crashed at the intersection of U.S. 441 and West Atlantic Avenue.

He was carrying a .38 caliber revolver and extra ammunition and was stained with blood when paramedics pulled him from the sport utility vehicle, according to an affidavit for Jacobson's arrest.

He told them what he had done.

"I went off the deep end," he said, according to the affidavit.

"I never dreamed that Neal would do this, but he was a desperate man," said Laurie Norton, who last saw Jacobson on Jan. 15. "When he was here for Richard's funeral, all he could talk about was how stupid he was for doing what he did — the stupid things he did to end up in the financial position that he was in.

"He could not forgive himself for anything."

Before Laurie Norton's husband died, he told her Jacobson kept four guns in his house, she said. "I told Neal probably a month ago," she said, " 'Neal, get rid of the guns.' "

After listening to his confession Saturday, the paramedics took Jacobson to Delray Medical Center, where he told a nurse he had swallowed 10 tablets of Xanax anti-anxiety medicine and had hoped to kill himself. A sheriff's detective arrested him hours later on three counts of first-degree murder.

As he was booked into the Palm Beach County Jail on Saturday evening, friends and family members were dumbstruck at what he had done.

Jacobson, president of a newly formed company that sells human growth hormone over the Internet, and a board member of the Wellington Jewish Community Center, showered his boys with affection, said friend Linda Katz.

"We never saw anything suspicious or abusive in behavior," said Katz, whose son rode the bus to Binks Forest Elementary with first-graders Eric and Joshua . "Outwardly everything was fine."

Franki Jacobson, a writer and illustrator, published her first children's book, Green Bean's Birthday Party, in December. The book, which she co-wrote with Kazanchian, encourages children to learn sign language. It follows Josh and Eric, boys modeled after her sons.

Friends and family described the boys as perfect children. They were sunny, well-behaved, outgoing, and frighteningly intelligent, they said.

"Those boys, they were just her life," Kazanchian said, stifling tears.

She reached back to her childhood, to when her parents had died, to when she and Franki and a third sister had promised each other they would live long, long lives together.

"This wasn't supposed to happen," she said, breaking down. "I want her back. I just want her back."