DANBURY, Conn. (AP) — A mother strangled her three young children to death in their Connecticut home before taking her own life, according to an initial investigation by police Thursday.
Officers found the bodies of 12-year-old Junior Panjon, 10-year-old Joselyn Panjon and 5-year-old Jonael Panjon inside their home in Danbury on Wednesday evening after responding to a call from a distraught man, city police said.
The body of the mother, 36-year-old Sonia Loja, was later discovered inside a shed behind the home.
“Pending an official autopsy, preliminary findings indicate that Ms. Loja strangled her three children before killing herself. However, this is still an active investigation,” police said in a news release.
The sudden deaths unnerved residents of this small city about 50 miles (80 kilometers) northeast of New York City.
“This is a very quiet neighborhood, if something happens, everybody on the block is bound to know,” neighbor Atkin Guishard told Hearst Connecticut Media.
“It’s shocking. I can’t believe it. I’m still shaking,” he said. “I can’t believe something like this happened on this street.”
Danbury Mayor Dean Esposito said in a release that the city and its school system plan to provide mental health and counseling services to children impacted by the deaths. He promised: “We will get through this together.”
Authorities said the mother and children lived at the residence with two other adults who were not present when police arrived.
Areas around the house remained cordoned off with yellow caution tape Thursday. A well-maintained garden sits in the backyard by a child’s playhouse and swing set.
Neighbor Ralph Biaugher told Hearst that children often played happily in the yard.
“They always wave to me when I get out of the car,” Biaugher said. “When I get off work, they’re playing in the yard, laughing, riding their bikes. Nothing out of the ordinary. You would never think nothing like that would happen.”