Updated: Friday, 01 Mar 2013, 7:52 PM EST
Published : Wednesday, 27 Feb 2013, 6:00 AM EST
NORTH STONINGTON, Conn. (WTNH) -- What led a grandmother to kill her two young grandsons and then take her own life? That's what police as well as family and friends are trying to make sense of.
"We're fairing. We're sad. This hit really close to home this time," said Christine Hare the owner of Kidds & Co. Daycare.
Emotions are running high at Kidds & Co Daycare in North Stonington. At 2:30 Tuesday afternoon 47-year-old Debra Denison picked up her grandsons 6-month-old Ashton Perry and his older brother Alton who turned 2 yesterday.
"The arrangement was she was going to spend some time with the boys then they were going to meet up later with Brenda and Jeremy for a family party," said Nikkie Salaun a daycare center director.
"We knew her we knew how she was. We go through our minds now is there's something we could have picked up on but nothing," said Hare.
Never did they imagine what would happen instead. A suicide note alerted the boy's parents that they were in danger, sparking a statewide Amber Alert which would end in tragedy. Their were bodies found in Denison's van next to Lake of Isles in Preston at 9:30 Tuesday night. Police believe Denison shot the boys and then turned the gun on herself.
"I was shocked, yeah, it's a horrible thing. My heart goes to the family for what has happened. Just awful, those poor children," said Colleen O'Connor.
O'Connor lives across the street from Denison in Stonington and was even more shocked when she heard her neighbor named in the Amber Alert. Sources say Denison who was bipolar and had a history of mental problems also had a .38 caliber revolver.
"I mean not sound like a jerk but if you want to take your own life go for it. Two innocent beautiful boys that's terrible, terrible," said Andrea Kane.
Kane lives near Denison. Children's toys are seen in the yard of her Stonington home.
"Excellent mom, excellent mom. Never seen the grandmother, never seen her but every time we'd go around the block she'd have the kids outside and they'd wave to you. Adorable adorable," said Kane.
A man who answered Denison's door waved us away. The same happened at Alton and Ashton's home in North Stonington where their parents are now mourning a tremendous loss. Their mom Brenda once worked at this daycare center.
"So she's a great mom. Those boys were her life," said Hare. "We're very close to the mom and dad so any prayers are greatly appreciated for everyone involved."
Hours after an Amber Alert was issued for two boys and their grandmother, all three were found dead by a lake in Preston.
Police have tentatively identified the three as Alton Perry, 2, and Ashton Perry, 6-months, and Debra Denison, 47.
The Amber Alert was issued Tuesday afternoon after Denison picked up the children at their daycare, but then could not be found, state police said.
Police said Denison was authorized to pick the boys up from daycare at Kidds & Co. Tuesday.
Around 9:30 p.m. police, acting on a tip about a suspicious vehicle at Lake of Isle in Preston, found the Chrysler Town and Country Van sought in the alert.
Troopers found the three people dead inside the van.
According to police, a suicide note was located and the three deceased all suffered from gunshot wounds.
A revolver was recovered by police at the scene.
Police are considering the incident a murder/suicide.
The bodies were taken to the Medical Examiner's office to determine the cause of death.
News 8 was told by state police that the grandmother was bipolar and had medical conditions.
Tuesday was Alton's second birthday.
The state police Major Crimes Unit is investigating.
Kidds & Co. daycare officials said they were very familiar with the grandmother and that they observed nothing troubling about her behavior Tuesday.
Daycare officials spoke very highly of the family and said the boys' mother, Brenda Perry, actually used to work at the daycare herself.
Kidds & Co. considered not opening Wednesday, but decided to go ahead with business as usual.
The daycare has been open approximately five years.