How the Abington community is trying to process the ‘unfathomable’ loss of the Zaccardi family

"Every one of us is feeling lost, to be honest with you."

ABINGTON, MA - 10/08/2019: At entrance to Abington Middle School, a green for a Zaccardi family member who attended the school.   (David L Ryan/Globe Staff ) SECTION: METRO TOPIC stand alone photo
–David L Ryan/Boston Globe

Green shirts, green balloons, and green hearts were on display in Abington on Tuesday as the community mourns and grapples with the deaths of a local couple and their three children

Authorities say the bodies of Deirdre and Joe Zaccardi, along with those of their three kids, 11-year-old Alexis and 9-year-old twins Nathaniel and Kathryn, were discovered Monday morning when a relative went to the family’s home to pick up the children for school. All five of the family members were found in their Center Avenue condo suffering from gunshot wounds. Authorities have declined to say whether the deaths were a murder-suicide, but said during a press conference on Monday that it was an isolated incident and there was no danger to the public. 

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“This remains an active and ongoing investigation,” Plymouth District Attorney Timothy Cruz said Monday.

Through the DA’s office, relatives of the Zaccardi family released a statement Monday saying they were grieving the “tremendous losses in private.”

“Our family has suffered an unfathomable loss,” the statement read. 

In the ensuing days, there has been an outpouring of support in Abington, remembering the Zaccardi family and focusing on the community healing in the wake of the tragedy. 

The Zaccardi children. —Facebook

According to the Brockton Enterprise, one of the local groups significantly impacted by the deaths is Keeping Pace with Multiple Miracles, a South Shore support group for families with multiple birth children, which Deirdre joined nine years ago after the birth of her twins. 

“She’s irreplaceable and there’ll always be a hole in our group where she should be,” member Sarah Wall told the newspaper. “We’ll try to honor her the best we can in the coming months and years, as long as we can, but there’s always just going to be something missing from our group.” 

On Facebook, Wall penned a message in memory of her friend.

“While the why’s are plaguing us, we are choosing to lift each other up and focus our prayers on comfort, peace, and healing,” she wrote. “I keep hearing Deirdre’s laugh. It’s my go-to right now. I choose to hear her joy wringing in my ears. We promise you, Deirdre we won’t stop laughing. It just might take some time before it can truly happen.”

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The founder of Keeping Pace with Multiple Miracles, Pam Pace, told the Enterprise that Deirdre never missed the monthly meetings. The entire family would attend the group’s annual parties. 

“Every one of us is feeling lost, to be honest with you,” Pace said of the deaths. 

On Tuesday, Pam Ferrone and her 9-year-old daughter Morgan, who was friends with the Zaccardi children, stopped by the growing memorial outside the family’s condo complex to leave a bouquet, the Boston Herald reports

“I haven’t held anything back about what we know,” Ferrone said of breaking the news to her daughter. “She’s still trying to process it, like I am. No one will ever know why. It kind of just goes to show you, you don’t know what people are dealing with in their lives to do something this tragic. But I wanted to give her a little peace.” 

The school district has been offering grief counselors as it shares with students news of the deaths of three of their peers, and, on Tuesday, Abington Superintendent Peter Schafer praised faculty and staff for their work and thanked the community for the groundswell of support. 

“The last two days have obviously been very difficult for students, families, faculty, staff and administration across the district,” he wrote.  

Jonathan Hawes, principal of the Woodsdale School, urged parents in a Tuesday letter to reach out if they notice their child is struggling with processing the loss, emphasizing that supports will continue to be in place at the school. 

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“This was a heavy, difficult day for many at the Woodsdale School and we all appreciate the well-wishing, the emails, the calls, and the treats you brought by in support of our school,” he wrote. 

Counselors will continue to be available in the district, the superintendent said. 

“We are all exceedingly fortunate to be a part of such a caring and supportive school community in Abington,” he said. “The thoughtful compassion provided by the faculty and staff, who have been taking care of the entire spectrum of needs of children, has been nothing short of incredible. The outpouring of encouragement and support from families and the community has been generous and is sincerely appreciated.”

Read the full statement, posted on the district website, from Schafer below: 

Dear Parents and Caregivers,

As we all grieve and try to process the unfathomable, the last two days have obviously been very difficult for students, families, faculty, staff and administration across the district. I would like to share the following with you as we work to meet the continued challenges.

We are all exceedingly fortunate to be a part of such a caring and supportive school community in Abington. The thoughtful compassion provided by the faculty and staff, who have been taking care of the entire spectrum of needs of children, has been nothing short of incredible. The outpouring of encouragement and support from families and the community has been generous and is sincerely appreciated. Additional counselors came from our neighbors, the Rockland and East Bridgewater Public Schools, and have been superior and helped our students. Our continued collaboration with the Abington Police Department has provided a tremendous level of support and feeling of safety in and around our schools.

We will continue to provide support and do whatever it takes as a school community to see to the needs of our students. The families of students who are identified as most affected have been and will continue to be contacted. If you feel your child needs more support, please contact your child’s school. Counselors will continue to be available.

Sincerely,

Peter Schafer, Superintendent of Schools