A woman who picked up her two young grandsons from day care and was supposed to bring them home so the two year-old could open his birthday presents, instead drove them to a neighbouring town and shot and killed the children and herself, state police and family members said.
The bodies of 47-year-old Debra Denison and her grandsons, two year-old Alton Perry and six month-old Ashton Perry, were found Tuesday night in a car parked near Lake of Isles in Preston, in the southeastern part of the state.
State police called the deaths a double murder-suicide yesterday, saying they believe Denison shot the boys and herself. Autopsies were planned.
Family members said Denison had bipolar disorder and a history of mental-health problems. A state police spokeswoman, Sgt Donna Tadiello, said Denison left a suicide note but declined to say where it was found.
Tuesday was Alton's second birthday. Denison picked up the children from their day care in North Stonington Tuesday afternoon and was supposed to bring them home so Alton could open his presents, family members said.
"I wanted him to come home and play with his new toys and have a good day," Alton's mother, Brenda Perry, told WVIT-TV.
Friendly and talkative
The grandmother was friendly and talkative when she picked up the children and did not give any indication of distress, according to Nikki Salaun, director of the Kidds & Co daycare centre in North Stonington.
After helping Denison to her van with the children, they discovered she had taken the wrong car seat. When they could not get in touch with her by phone, they alerted the boys' mother, and police soon issued an alert.
Marcia White, a paternal great-grandmother of the slain boys, said Denison insisted on picking the children up alone even when their mother asked her to bring along another relative.
White said Perry told her that Denison asked to pick the boys up to be with Alton on his birthday.
"She was apparently very convincing," White said.
Denison also had a 13-year-old son and, in her suicide note, she said in part that God was watching over him on Tuesday, White said.