Anguish over grandmother's murder-suicide

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NORTH STONINGTON, Conn. -- Debra Denison's struggles with mental illness were well known in her family, and when she wanted to pick up her grandsons from day care to mark the older boy's birthday, mother Brenda Perry hesitated.

Denison, 47, not only wanted to pick up Alton, 2, and 6-month-old Ashton, but she also wanted to do it alone, the boys' great-grandmother said.

Perry told her mother the boys were too much for her to handle, but Denison insisted.

"She was apparently very convincing," said Marcia White, the boys' great-grandmother on their father's side. So Perry asked her to take along another relative. She didn't -- and now a family and a town are wondering whether anything could have prevented what came next.

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Denison left a suicide note, drove alone to the day care, picked up the boys, took them to a nearby lake and apparently used her husband's gun to fatally shoot them and herself, authorities said yesterday. The bodies were found Tuesday night, after a two-hour search.

Denison's 13-year-old son was not with her Tuesday afternoon and was unharmed. In her suicide note, she said in part that God was watching over him, White said. What she meant by that, and her motive, remain unclear. -- AP

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