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Slain Brockton mother remembered at vigil

Woman is fondly recalled

Emmanuela St. Louis ( center), a daughter of  Florence Beaulieu, was comforted by a cousin, Diana Paul, at the vigil.

George Rizer for the Boston Globe

Emmanuela St. Louis ( center), a daughter of Florence Beaulieu, was comforted by a cousin, Diana Paul, at the vigil.

BROCKTON — Mourners gathered at a candlelight vigil Monday evening to fondly remember a mother of four who was found dead in her home May 16 by her teenage daughter.

About 50 supporters and family members lit candles outside the Forest Avenue residence of the victim, 37-year-old Florence Beaulieu, recalling her quick smile and helpful nature. They spilled onto the sidewalk as they paid respects and offered sympathy to Beaulieu’s four children and cousins.

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Pictures of Beaulieu, along with flowers and candles, were placed on the steps to the home.

“I’m trying to stay strong,” said daughter Mishnah Beaulieu. “I know she’s giving us the strength right now.”

She broke down in tears and was led off the steps, away from the crowd.

In late April, Beaulieu filed for a restraining order against her estranged husband, citing abuse. She said she and her children feared for their lives.

“Every time he would beat me up,” she wrote in her affidavit for the protective order. “He bit, slapped, and had spit on my face. . . . I have had to go to the hospital after he beat me.”

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On May 16, two days after she requested the restraining order not be renewed, she was found dead by her daughter, who had just arrived home from school. Investigators have not declared the death a homicide, but Interim Police Chief Robert Hayden, who was at the vigil, said it appears to be.

“If this turns out to be murder, as it appears, we will make an arrest and prosecute the person who did it,” Hayden said.

“Every homicide in this city is equally important, but what makes this particularly repugnant is how the children found her after school,” he said outside the home. When asked about suspects, he said he could not comment on the investigation.

Authorities have declined to discuss whether Beaulieu’s husband, Jean Michel Beaulieu, is a suspect.

Florence Beaulieu worked at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital-Milton as a certified nursing assistant. Her four children, ages 5 to 16, are now in state custody.

On Monday evening, police on motorcycles directed traffic as attendees of the vigil walked up and down Forest Avenue. Family members hugged one another, some clutching Beaulieu’s portrait, as their candles burned down to the wax guards.

“It would be better if she was here,” said Beaulieu’s son, Jean Michel Beaulieu Jr., who identified himself as “Junior.”

“She helped everyone as much as she could, and she goes out like this?” he said. “How can someone so great go out so terribly?”

He paused, and then said, “Stay strong. I have to stay strong for my sisters.”

Carmelle Bonhometre, program director of the Association of Haitian Women of Boston, helped organize the vigil and stood on the steps of Beaulieu’s home, demanding justice. She said 17 people from the Haitian community in Massachusetts have been killed in domestic violence since 1991, most of them in Brockton.

“I want people to know if you’re the victim of this kind of situation, please look for the expert,” Bonhometre said. She stressed that individuals in abusive relationships should reach out to any organization for help.

“You don’t have to stay in the relationship,” she said. “There’s a way out.”

Attendees of the vigil stood outside the home past 8 p.m., praying and singing together in remembrance of Beaulieu.

Junior said he wants people to remember his mother as “a good person.”

“I want to remember her always happy . . . always smiling,” he said. “Always smile, because she did, too.”

Derek J. Anderson can be reached at derek.anderson
@globe.com
. Peter Schworm of the Globe staff contributed to this report.

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