STITTSVILLE, Ont. – Grieving well-wishers and neighbours placed flowers and poems Tuesday outside the picturesque suburban home where police believe a 40-year-old mother killed her two young children before taking her own life.
“May God guide you and give you the strength you need,” read a card affixed to a bouquet planted in the snowbank by Emily and Jeff Gold.
Earlier in the day, police released the names of the victims — two of them schoolchildren who attended class across the street — of what they called a “horrific” double-murder and suicide in this sleepy bedroom community on the outskirts of Ottawa.
Ten-year-old Jon Alexander Corchis, six-year-old Katheryn Elizabeth Corchis and Alison Constance Easton, 40, were all residents of the two-storey home where their bodies were discovered Monday.
No specific details about the cause of death were released, although a police news release described the incident as a “double-murder and suicide,” and noted that no charges were anticipated “due to the circumstances.”
“It’s horrific,” Ottawa police Insp. John Maxwell told a news conference. “It’s everybody’s worst nightmare because it’s so sad. It’s a criminal act, but it’s on the human-tragedy side of the balance.”
Maxwell said police are speaking to friends, family and those in the neighbourhood to find out anything they can about what might have caused the tragedy.
The family’s past contact with police was limited to what Maxwell described as “barking-dog calls.” None were related to domestic disturbances, he added. “They certainly were not; absolutely not.”
Easton was involved in the local neighbourhood watch program, he added.
“This might seem like a cut-and-dried file, but not necessarily; that’s why we want to talk to a lot of people — friends, family, acquaintances — and find out if they saw anything along the way,” Maxwell said.
“We’re always looking for prevention of the next tragedy, of course, right? We have to step back a few paces and see if anything could have been done. Nothing of that nature has come forward yet, but that’s why we dig.”
Maxwell also offered his condolences and sympathies to the father, and expressed support to the firefighters and emergency crew members who were the first on the scene.
“I want to say that it was actually fire and EMS who arrived first, before the police … the first officers on the scene, most of them have families; this is very, very difficult,” he said.
“Thank God there are men and women out there who go into the darkness like we do.”
Grief counsellors, meanwhile, were dispatched Tuesday to Stittsville Public School, across the street from the home, where the children attended class. Neither was in school on Monday, Maxwell said.
The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board says parent volunteers and extra supply teachers will also be on hand.
Tonya Marczak, a neighbour, said her daughter was a good friend of the little girl, who she said loved to play dress-up.
“You couldn’t not see her in a dress-up dress when she came over to play, she was always dressing up,” Marczak told radio station CFRA.
Marczak described Easton, a stay-at home mom, as “very quiet.”