PRESTON, Conn. — A woman who picked up her two young grandsons from daycare and was supposed to bring them home so the 2-year-old could open his birthday presents instead drove them to a neighboring 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, 2-year-old Alton Perry and 6-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 Wednesday, saying they believe Denison shot the boys and herself. Autopsies were planned.
Family members said Denison, the boys’ maternal grandmother, had a history of mental health problems. Marcia White, a paternal great-grandmother of the slain boys, said Denison struggled with bouts of depression but seemed to be doing well lately. The boys’ parents told WVIT-TV that Denison had split personalities and WFSB-TV reported that family members described her as having bipolar disorder.
Tuesday was Alton’s second birthday. Denison picked up the children from their daycare 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.
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 center in North Stonington.
Salaun and daycare center co-owner Christine Hare said the boys’ mother worked at the daycare center herself a couple years and had mentioned that the grandmother had a history of mental health troubles. They said they keep going over the pickup in their minds but there is nothing they could have done differently.
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.