A pastor at St. Paul’s Church of the Nazarene in Duxbury heard traffic, helicopters and soon the grim news.
The pastor contacted the Rev. Jeremy Stanford, the church’s lead pastor who lives in Marshfield.
Both are still processing the “unimaginable” tragedy that happened at a single-family home down the road on Summer Street Tuesday night.
A 32-year-old mother strangled her 5-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son to death, while her 7-month-old infant son, also strangled, was unconscious and MedFlighted to a Boston hospital where he remained Wednesday.
The mother, identified as Lindsay Clancy, is being charged with their homicides, Plymouth District Attorney Tim Cruz said at a news conference inside Duxbury Police Department Wednesday afternoon.
Stanford opened St. Paul’s late Tuesday to first responders, media members and anyone else, providing them healthy snacks and a place to reflect during the tragedy.
“I thought it was important to have a space open where people could talk if they needed to, pray if they needed to, grieve if they needed to,” Stanford told the Herald. “We’re just trying to make a space where people can talk and find support.”
Fighting through tears as he delivered remarks to reporters, Town Manager Rene Read called the outpouring of community support “incredible.”
That sense of the community rallying together in the early hours following the devastating incident could be seen by churches across town opening their doors for residents.
It could be seen on the town community Facebook page ‘Duxbury helping Duxbury’ being filled with posts from residents seeking ways to help first responders and fellow residents who were grieving.
And it could be seen on the mulch alongside the driveway in front of the gray gambrel-style home where the incident occurred Tuesday evening. Flowers, a colorful teddy bear and a stuffed Curious George and Pluto from Mickey Mouse comprised a makeshift memorial.
While the town can’t accept monetary donations at this point, Read said, the town manager encourages residents who’d like to donate food or meals to contact the Duxbury Police Department at (781) 934-5656 or the Duxbury Fire Department at (781) 934-5693.
“People just want to do something,” Read said. “It’s tough. This isn’t what I do. This is what these guys and gals do, being up here is tough.”
State legislators representing Duxbury expressed their feelings via social media early Wednesday.
“It’s hard to find the right words for the unimaginable tragedy in Duxbury last night,” said State Rep. Josh S. Cutler, D-6th Plymouth. “Our hearts break at the loss of these innocent children. There is lots of love and support in our community and every bit of it will be needed for this family.”
State Sen. Patrick O’Connor, D-1st Plymouth and Norfolk, added: “While all the details have yet to emerge, my heart goes out to the family and loved ones of these three innocent children.”
Rev. Bill Ferguson, pastor of Pilgrim Church of Duxbury, said there are two phases to the grieving process: the immediate response and longer-term healing. In the days ahead, it’s important for residents to care for themselves, he said, while there will be time later for prayer vigils and gatherings.
Across town, purple ribbons decorate mailboxes, trees, telephone poles and street lights. The ribbons are a sign of Duxbury’s resilient community strength. They’ve been up since the death of Laney Ladd, a 5-year-old girl who died unexpectedly on Dec. 19.
“We look for answers to unanswerable questions,” Ferguson told the Herald. “That’s what we feel brings us comfort, but the answer is not always there. In turn, we look for community, we look to each other just to walk with each other in that discomfort and pain, hoping that there will be some peace that comes with that.”