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Taunton stabbing victims honored in Thursday night vigil

Attendees Thursday night left a vigil for victims in Taunton’s stabbing spree. The service was held in Taunton’s Holy Family Parish, where 80-year-old Patricia Slavin attended Mass daily.Jim Davis/The Boston Globe

TAUNTON — The knock at the door came as 80-year-old Patricia Slavin and her daughter, Kathleen, were finishing dinner Tuesday evening. Outside their home on Myricks Street, a man had just crashed his car into a pickup truck.

Out of concern, one of the two women opened the door expecting the stranger would need help, according to the Rev. Kevin Cook, pastor of Holy Family Parish.

But the kind gesture led to the death of Patricia Slavin and injuries to her daughter.

Maureen Rose, a close friend of Patricia Slavin, attended the vigil. Jim Davis/The Boston Globe/Globe Staff

Arthur J. DaRosa allegedly went on a violent rampage Tuesday, stabbing the Slavins in their home and then driving to a mall, where he killed a teacher, George Heath, who was having dinner in Bertucci’s Italian Restaurant with his wife. Heath was trying to protect a waitress from being attacked when he died. The violence ended when James Creed, an off-duty Plymouth County sheriff’s deputy, shot and killed DaRosa after ordering him to drop his weapon.

Slavin and Heath were remembered Thursday night for their desire to help others at a vigil held at Holy Family Parish in Taunton, where Slavin attended Mass daily.

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“We should not be overwhelmed by the horror,” Cooke said, “but by the amount of good that filled people’s lives.”

As Cook addressed the crowd of about 100 people, he spoke of Slavin’s dedication to giving back to those around her, as a mother and a nurse.

“Even in that horrible moment . . . Pat and Kathy’s response was love,” Cook said. “They opened their door to a man they thought was in need.”

Heath also died helping others, he said.

“Even as horror started to unfold before them, he stepped forward,” Cook said.

Cook then mentioned the selflessness of the fast-acting sheriff’s deputy, Creed.

“In a moment of horror, when many would think to flee, he stepped forward,” Cook said.

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A few women, who identified themselves as aunts of the injured waitress, Sheenah Savoy, said they came to the vigil to give their respects to Heath’s widow, Rosemary, who did not attend the gathering.

“[We] came out of love,” one said, holding a floral bouquet.

Authorities have said that Kathleen Slavin was being treated at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, but a spokeswoman there said Thursday she had no information about a patient with that name.

Earlier on Thursday, friends of Savoy were praising the heroics of the 56-year-old Heath, who lost his life while trying to stop the brutal attack.

Shaheen Savoy.

“He saved her life,” Heidi Pinto, a friend and neighbor of Savoy, said Thursday. “I want to go to the wake for that man.”

Heath, a visual arts teacher at New Bedford Regional Vocational Technical High School, was sitting with his wife in Bertucci’s in the Silver City Galleria mall when he saw DaRosa stabbing Savoy, authorities have said.

Heath tried to wrap his arms around DaRosa, 28, to stop the assault and was fatally stabbed during the struggle.

Savoy, 26, was listed in good condition Thursday at Rhode Island Hospital, a hospital spokeswoman said. Pinto said Savoy is pregnant and her unborn child survived the attack.

“She was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” said Pinto, 40, who visited Savoy at the hospital Tuesday night.

She said Savoy suffered a stab wound to her neck and other injuries.

“I didn’t know what to do. I felt completely helpless,” said Pinto, who is a patient care assistant. “I just wanted to take her pain away. ”

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Cora Martin, whose son is Savoy’s live-in boyfriend, called Heath a hero.

She said her son, James, 23, wrote a tribute on Facebook in which he said Heath was in paradise and thanked him.

“He loves Sheenah, and he wrote it down to send a message,” Martin said in an interview outside the apartment Savoy shares with her son in Taunton. “We take every day for granted, but I won’t anymore.”

She said her son has been at Savoy’s side since she was attacked.

Pinto said Savoy has another child, who is 4.

Prior to the attacks, DaRosa had been discussing suicide and was taken Monday evening to Morton Hospital in Taunton, which released him hours later.

The attacks are being investigated by Bristol District Attorney Thomas M. Quinn III, whose spokesman said Thursday that investigators will not comment until a report on the case is ready.

DaRosa’s children, ages 3 and 5, learned on Thursday that their father had been killed, according to a lawyer for Samantha Shaheen, the attacker’s former girlfriend.

“She just feels awful about everything,” said Frank Biedak, the attorney.

Another vigil is set for Friday at Christ Community Church in East Taunton, said pastor Matt Thornton.

Vigil attendees listened as Father Kevin Cook spoke about the victims and why the tragedy happened.Mike Gay/Taunton Gazette

Michael Levenson of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Laura Crimaldi can be reached at laura.crimaldi@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @lauracrimaldi. Christopher Gavin can be reached at christopher.gavin@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @chris_m_gavin.

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Correction: In a previous version of this story, a photo misidentified Sheenah Savoy. An earlier version also misidentified women who brought flowers to the gathering. The women are aunts of Savoy. The Globe regrets the errors.