HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A woman who shot and killed her two young grandsons before committing suicide last year left a note to the boys' parents saying they did not deserve to have the children, according to a police report.
The report, obtained by The Associated Press through a Freedom of Information request, suggests a possible motive for the first time and sheds new light on her mental health problems: The grandmother, Debra Denison, had a history of conflict with the boys' mother and had attempted suicide a half dozen times before.
Denison, 47, picked up 2-year-old Alton Perry and 6-month-old Ashton Perry at a day care in North Stonington on Feb. 26, 2013, and was supposed to take them home for a birthday party but instead drove to a nearby lake where they were found shot to death after a frantic search.
In addition to a suicide note to her husband, Denison left a note addressed to the boys' parents, Jeremy and Brenda Perry. Denison was Brenda Perry's mother. "The note stated among other things that Brenda and Jeremy did not deserve to have the children and Debra wanted them to feel the loss of a child," state police Detective David Lamoureux wrote in a report on Oct. 22.
Brenda Perry told police she had struggled with her mother for years because of control issues and mental health problems including dissociative identity disorder, formerly called multiple personality disorder. Perry, 24, said her mother had told Jeremy lies about her in attempts to break up their relationship and she became more easily agitated after they married and had children.
In the months before the killings, Perry said they had decided to mend fences. Her mother seemed more stable and they were planning to go to counseling together. Perry had recently added her mother to the list of people authorized to collect the children at day care, but Perry's brother or sister was supposed to accompany Denison. The grandmother went alone, and day care workers said she was friendly and talkative as she loaded the children in her van.
Jance Denison, Debra's husband, said the revolver that she used belonged to him and was left unloaded in their house. Jance Denison had acquired the gun from his brother months earlier because Debra Denison insisted on it being at her house following recent burglaries, the brother told police.
Jance Denison said Debra had attempted suicide at least six times over 20 years and been committed but he "never imagined Debbie was capable of this." Several relatives told police that Debra was upset by a letter she received about a week before the shootings from her son, Christopher Allen, who is serving a 32-year prison sentence for a drug-related murder.
Allen, who was interviewed in prison during the search for his nephews, said that when he was younger his mother told him he was a product of rape. A month and a half before the shooting, she told him that was a lie that she told because she did not want Allen's biological father to raise him. Allen said the letter to his mother expressed "how I truly felt" about her.
The report from state police said the case is closed with no further investigation anticipated.