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Duxbury mother charged with killing her children as community grapples with devastating tragedy

Susan Egan and her son, Liam, joined hundreds of people gathered Thursday night at Holy Family Catholic Church in Duxbury to pray for the Clancy family. Lindsay M. Clancy is under police guard at a Boston hospital after being charged with murdering two of her children and severely injuring the other.Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff

DUXBURY — Outside the Clancy family home on Summer Street, a memorial to the two young children allegedly killed by their mother, and to their infant brother who was traumatically injured by her, continued to grow Thursday with flowers, a giant teddy bear and other stuffed animals, and hand-painted rocks with the children’s names.

This South Shore town is deeply grieving the deaths of the Clancy children, Cora, 5, and Dawson, 3, and residents are praying for the recovery of their 7-month-old brother, who is being treated at Boston Children’s Hospital. Their mother, Lindsay M. Clancy, is under police guard at a Boston hospital after murder and assault charges were filed against her in Plymouth District Court, officials said.

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A vigil Thursday night at Holy Family Catholic Church brought together hundreds, from grandparents to young children, to pray for the Clancy family. As “Ave Maria” played, some knelt in prayer. Uniformed police officers stood stoically in a corner. In one pew,11-year-old Liam Egan comforted his weeping mother, Susan.

“All of us here in Duxbury and beyond are devastated and heartbroken at the news of what has happened to this young family,” said the Rev. Robert J. Deehan, the church pastor who led the half-hour vigil.

Prayers were offered for Cora and Dawson, their ailing brother, and their parents. Prayers were also offered for those suffering from mental illness, and for police, fire, and other public safety workers who responded to the family’s home on Tuesday night.

“Before these tragic events, they were a happy, loving couple and family,” Deehan said.

After lighting candles, people sang “Let There Be Peace on Earth.”

It was not clear Thursday when or where Lindsay M. Clancy will be arraigned on the eight charges, including two charges of murder.

Officials said Clancy, 32, injured herself and jumped out of a second-floor window of her home Tuesday night after she allegedly strangled Cora, and Dawson.

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She is also accused of attempting to strangle her 7-month-old son, whom officials have not named.

Clancy could be arraigned in her hospital room, as is customary when criminal defendants are recovering from injuries. If she recovers sufficiently to leave the hospital, she would be arraigned at a Plymouth courthouse.

An arraignment is not currently scheduled, a spokeswoman for Plymouth District Attorney Timothy J. Cruz said Thursday.

Two people hugged before the start of a vigil at Holy Family Church.Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff

At a news conference Wednesday, Cruz said he could not “begin to fathom the pain, the depths of pain” the Clancy family must be feeling.

In addition to the murder charges, Clancy faces three counts of strangulation or suffocation, and three counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, prosecutors said. Court documents in the case have been impounded, a court official said.

The killings have stunned the South Shore town where Clancy and her husband have lived on Summer Street since 2018.

“It’s just incomprehensible,” Diane Monaghan, a parishioner at Holy Family, said outside the church. “I hope the family knows that we’re all behind them, and there with them in prayer, and whatever other way we can do — meals, whatever we can do.”

“Everybody needs to come together, and this is a community that supports everyone,” said Nancy McCarthy, a member of the church choir.

Ahead of the vigil, Fire Chief Robert G. Reardon released a statement offering his “thoughts and prayers” for the Clancy family and first responders.

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Outside the church, Debbie Heath said her son has been a Duxbury firefighter for about three years and was one of the first to respond to the Clancy home.

“It’s still bothering him today,” she said. “When it’s quiet, that’s when you start. You’re alone with your thoughts. He’s had little breakdowns here and there, but hopefully every day it’ll get a little bit better. But he’s just trying to keep busy right now.”

The vigil came just two days after the horrific act of family violence.

Shortly after 6 p.m. Tuesday, Clancy’s husband called 911 after his wife jumped out a second-story window. Firefighters arrived to a horrifying scene, finding three children “unconscious, with obvious signs of trauma” inside the home, officials said.

Cora and Dawson were pronounced dead at a hospital, while the infant boy was flown to Boston.

On her Facebook page, Clancy wrote that she works as a labor and delivery nurse at Massachusetts General Hospital, where officials confirmed she was employed.

“We are shocked and saddened to learn of this unthinkable tragedy,” the hospital said in a statement. “We extend our deepest sympathies to all those affected by these devastating events.”

Details of Clancy’s background appeared to show a successful professional and personal life. She received her nursing license in 2014, according to state records, and holds a bachelor’s of science degree in nursing from the Massachusetts General Hospital Institute of Health Professions.

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She and Patrick Clancy were married in 2016 in Southington, Conn., according to an engagement announcement published in the Scituate Mariner newspaper.

She earned a biology degree from Quinnipiac University in 2012, the announcement said, after graduating from Lyman Hall High School in Wallingford, Conn., in 2008.

In her yearbook profile, Clancy, then named Lindsay Marie Musgrove, spoke warmly of her friends.

“I know it’s not perfect, but it’s life. Life is messy sometimes,” she wrote. “No matter how hard you fight it, you fall. And it’s scary. Except there’s an upside to free falling. It’s the chance you give your friends to catch you.”

Online, Clancy looked to be a proud and loving mother to her three young children.

In July, however, Clancy spoke openly in a Facebook post about her previous struggles with postpartum anxiety. She then wrote that six weeks after the birth of her third child, she was feeling “dialed in,” focusing on exercise, nutrition, and mind-set, and “it has made all the difference.”

The most recent photo, from early November, showed a bright-eyed, laughing baby boy wearing a winter cap and a flannel shirt.

Experts said that in similar cases they have studied, the culprit is often a loving mother struggling with mental illness, motivated by love and attachment to her children.

At the vigil, Lindsay Clancy’s apparent struggle with mental illness was on the minds of some.

Monaghan said she had empathy for Clancy and had read up on postpartum depression.

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“You try to understand it,” she said. “It’s hard to imagine how that could happen, still, but I’m trying to learn.”

If you or someone you know have had thoughts of suicide, call 988 or visit 988lifeline.org to chat online.


John R. Ellement can be reached at john.ellement@globe.com. Follow him @JREbosglobe.