Connecticut State Police said the two little boys found dead with their grandmother in a car all suffered from gunshot wounds and were the victims of a double murder/suicide.
The horrific and tragic story unfolded Tuesday afternoon when state police said the North Stonington boys were taken from their day care by their grandmother.
"We've gone over it in our heads a million times," said Christine Hare, who owns the day care.
Just after 4 p.m. Tuesday, state police said they received a report from the boys' mother saying her children, 6-month-old Ashton Perry and Alton Perry, who was celebrating his second birthday on Tuesday, had been picked up by their grandmother, Debra Denison, 47, and all three could not be located.
Connecticut State Police troopers immediately launched an investigation and enough information was gathered for an Amber Alert to be issued for the trio.
Around 9:30 p.m., state police said they received a 911 call from someone reporting a suspicious vehicle that matched the description of the one described in the Amber Alert parked near Lake of Isle in Preston.
The caller told police that there were three injured people inside the vehicle, two of which were children. State police troopers and EMS responded to the scene to find all three dead from apparent gunshot wounds.
Inside the vehicle, state police said, there was a suicide note, but the family did not elaborate on the contents of it, which is now in police custody.
"Certainly there was a suicide note and there was other information we had determined that really caused us to feel the children could be in serious danger," said state police Lt. Paul Vance.
Denison suffered from bipolar disorder and has a history of mental issues, according to family members who were gathered at the boys' parents home Tuesday night while hoping for the best.
On three separate occasions from 2005 to 2011, William Backus Hospital filed liens against Denison's home due to outstanding medical bills.
She also owed $668 to the Connecticut Behavioral Health Association and just last month, the state filed a lien on her property for unpaid income taxes totally nearly $6,000.
However, state police also confirmed that Denison was on the "pick up list" for the two boys.
"We certainly have a lot of work to do. A lot of questions to answer about the origin of that weapon and the ownership," Vance said. "We want to know anything and everything there is about that. Several issues/areas to investigate regarding this tragic case."
One family member believes Denison took her husband's .38-caliber pistol from their Sherwood Drive home before picking up her grandsons from day care.
It is unclear if Denison, who has no criminal history, had a gun permit.
The mother of the boys, Brenda Perry, posted the following message on Facebook Tuesday night after the cancellation of the Amber Alert: "God has two beautiful angels helping him now."
"I'm shocked. I'm trying to be the strong one here," father Jeremy Perry told Eyewitness News Tuesday night. "It's not easy. You know, our kids are some of the happiest kids you've ever seen."
Hare told Eyewitness News that "there was nothing" out of ordinary when Denison picked up the boys and she was "happy."
"She was talking about going to his (Alton's) birthday party," Hare said. "She was to bring him to his house to have a birthday party."
The Chelsea Groton Bank has set up the Perry Family Fund to help pay for their expenses. Anyone interested in donating can send checks to the following location:
Chelsea Groton Bank The Perry Family Fund P.O. Box 11 North Stonington, CT 06359
A prayer vigil is expected to be held at the North Stonington Rec/Park Friday night. The vigil will be at 7 p.m. and candles will be provided, but people can bring their own.
Brenda Perry has already started thanking the community, which has been left heartbroken, for their support during this tough time.
"Every time, I think of the pain that we feel and then, imagine what Brenda and Jeremy feel it takes my breath away," Nikki Salaun, who is the director at the day care center, said.
An autopsy will be performed by the chief state's medical examiner to determine the manner and cause of death Thursday.
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