Nearly two weeks after an Andover man apparently killed his wife and son before taking his own life, people close to the family were still trying to reconcile the horrific and confounding act with a couple they described as loving but increasingly withdrawn.
Linda and Andrew Robinson had once lived outgoing lives, but those who knew them said they retreated into isolation — even more so during the pandemic.
Officials have said that early on Feb. 9, Andrew Robinson, 56, killed his wife, Linda Robinson, 55, and their 12-year-old son, Sebastian, before shooting himself. The investigation is ongoing and authorities have yet to provide a motive for the killings. Before Feb. 9, police had never been called to the family’s home on Porter Road.
“We know the how,” police Chief Patrick Keefe has said. “Now we are trying to figure out the why.”
Peter Kanarian, Andrew Robinson’s stepfather, said family members are still trying to work through the tragedy.
“We are trying to figure out what happened, and who did what,” said Kanarian, who knew Andrew for decades.
Friends and family have said the couple loved one another deeply, and doted on Sebastian. The sixth grader was a cellist with the string ensemble at Saint John’s Preparatory School in Danvers and loved literature, animals, and riding his bicycle, according to his obituary.
Kanarian said of Andrew Robinson: “When he had a child, he worshipped that young boy.”
Linda Robinson’s uncle, Roger Arsenault, described her as “gentle, loving, beautiful.”
A funeral Mass for Sebastian and Linda Robinson was held at the school Saturday.
But since the beginning of the pandemic, Linda Robinson’s father and uncles said they rarely saw her. They said she and her husband equipped their house with electrical generators and a large freezer packed with food.
“I would ask my son, ‘Have you seen your sister?’ " said Joseph Hachey, Linda Robinson’s father. “And he would say [jokingly], ‘Who?’ Linda went into hibernation.”
Hachey said it had been a long time since he interacted with his grandson, and even virtual visits over Skype had ended several years ago.
Arsenault described Andrew Robinson as an intelligent person, but one who was also “a control freak.” Robinson appeared to keep to himself.
“He really didn’t want anybody talking to him,” Arsenault said.
But Mark DiSalvo, a longtime friend of Linda Robinson, said the couple’s isolation was the result of what he called a “mutual judgment.”
“It was very evident for both Linda and for Drew, that there was a level of intimacy that they would not afford a whole lot of people,” DiSalvo said.
In the past, the Robinsons had lived much more public lives. Linda Robinson, a former model, built a career in finance; and Andrew Robinson set state records with his high school’s swim team in Rhode Island, attended Dartmouth College, and eventually worked in construction.
When the couple wedded in late 2007, they were both living on Porter Road in Andover, according to public filings. It was the second marriage for both of them.
Born in Lynn, Linda Robinson grew up as Linda Hachey, and was raised in the United States and Canada, according to her obituary.
At Lynn English High School, where she would graduate in 1985, she was part of the school yearbook staff and the math team, her fondest memory was being a member of its drama club. She had ambition, and under her yearbook photo said she planned to attend college.
She would later attend Merrimack College where she earned a degree in accounting in 1990. There she met a fellow Merrimack student, Sean Quinn, whom she would marry in 1998.
They separated in the early 2000s, and Quinn filed for divorce in 2005.They owned two homes in Andover, drive nice cars, and take vacations around the world, she wrote in divorce filings.
The couple reached a separation agreement in 2006, leaving her with the home on Porter Road.
Quinn, in a brief phone interview, said he last spoke with Linda Robinson more than 15 years ago. He said he always held her in high regard and called her smart, caring, and loving.
“The Linda that I was married to was a wonderful person,” Quinn said. “I was shocked and deeply saddened by the news.”
She worked for 25 years as the finance director for DiSalvo’s company, Sema4 Inc. in North Andover, DiSalvo said. She cultivated a great deal of respect among colleagues before she left the company in late 2020 to focus on raising her son, DiSalvo said. It became more challenging to juggle the responsibilities of being a parent and working at Sema4, he said. Her mother, Claudette A. Champagne-Hachey, died in January 2020, and it also affected her, according to DiSalvo.
Andrew Robinson was a champion swimmer at Barrington High School, graduating in 1985, and worked his way through Dartmouth College to earn a psychology degree in 1989. He returned to Barrington for a few years in the early 1990s as a swim coach and was lauded for inspiring the next generation of athletes. In 1992, his squad hailed his leadership and guidance, and thanked him for his dedication.
“Our new coach, Andy Robinson, has set the team on a successful season; thanks to his superb coaching abilities and all the inspiration he brings us,” the team’s captains wrote in the school’s yearbook.
Andrew Robinson transitioned to construction and worked for nearly two decades at the Middleton-based BWK Construction, where he served as a project manager, according to a brief company profile posted to its website. He had experience working on residential and commercial projects.
He managed developments such as small historical renovations and “multi-million dollar” facilities, according to the profile, which was preserved in 2017 on Archive.org.
He also worked at Channel Building Co. in Wilmington, but left the firm about six months ago, according to an employee who spoke to The Boston Globe. The employee declined to release further information.
Before his death, Andrew Robinson was an employee at Windover Construction in Beverly, according to Stuart Meurer, the company’s president and chief executive, in a brief e-mail.
The Robinsons appeared to be deeply devoted to family. Andrew Robinson wrote movingly of his mother-in-law, Champagne-Hachey. In her obituary, he called her “a woman who epitomized grace and beauty.”
Sebastian’s middle name, Jean, was in honor of Champagne-Hachey’s father, Robinson wrote. When Sebastian learned his grandmother had died, Robinson described the boy looking at his mother, and saying, “Nana gave the best hugs.”
Robinson movingly described the strength Champagne-Hachey drew upon.
“A mother’s love is a powerful force that Claudette wielded with controlled fury. If you asked Claudette where all of this love came from, she’d reply ‘Your heart makes more,’” Robinson said.
Kanarian said Andrew Robinson deeply loved his wife and his son.
“That’s what makes this a mystery,” Kanarian said, wiping a tear from his right eye. “I wonder what happened.”
John R. Ellement, Emily Sweeney, and Travis Andersen of the Globe staff, and correspondent Nick Stoico, contributed to this report.
John Hilliard can be reached at email@example.com.