'She killed the kids': Court hearing reveals what happened to Clancy children in Duxbury
PLYMOUTH − Attorneys painted two diametrically different pictures in a court hearing Tuesday of the woman accused of strangling her three children in her Duxbury home last month.
Her defense lawyer, Kevin Reddington, told the story of a family in pain and an overmedicated mother with debilitating postpartum mental illness. Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Sprague, on the contrary, said Lindsay Clancy knew exactly what she was doing when she "created the situation" to kill her three children, and suggested she was of sound mind.
Clancy, 32, was arraigned Tuesday on two charges of murder in Plymouth District Court, where she appeared via a Zoom call from a hospital bed. She also faces three counts each of strangulation and assault and battery with a deadly weapon in the death of her three children.
Clancy wore a medical mask and remained still during the hearing, only blinking as the state accused her of strangling her children for several minutes each using exercise bands in the basement of their home. Reddington and Sprague appeared in person.
Judge John Canavan did not set a bail amount in the case, and instead said Clancy is ordered to stay in the Boston hospital where she is being treated. Reddington said his client is paralyzed from the waist down.
When the time comes for her to be released from the hospital, she is to be admitted to a 24/7 rehabilitation facility, Canavan said. After that, she will be released to home confinement with GPS monitoring, subject to further hearings. She was ordered to continue undergoing mental health treatment.
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Police responded to a 911 call placed by Clancy's husband, Patrick Clancy, on Jan. 24. He was calling to report his wife's apparent suicide attempt. First responders found two of the three Clancy children − Cora Clancy, 5, and Dawson Clancy, 3 − dead inside the home. A third child, 8-month-old Callan, died at Boston Children's Hospital several days later.
"This is a very sad and very tragic case," Plymouth District Attorney Tim Cruz said.
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Sprague, the prosecutor, said Clancy was having "one of her best days" on Tuesday, Jan. 24. She took Cora to the pediatrician and called a local CVS to discuss over-the-counter medication options for her children. No one reported anything amiss, Sprague said.
At about 5 p.m., she asked her husband to drive to CVS to pick up the child's medication and then Plymouth to pick up takeout food for dinner, which Sprague called "an unusual request." The assistant district attorney said Lindsay Clancy then opened the Apple Maps application to check how long it would take to drive to the Plymouth restaurant and back.
Patrick Clancy left shortly after 5 p.m. and called his wife from CVS to clarify what medication to buy.
"It was a completely normal call, though he did mention she seemed like she was in the middle of something," Sprague said.
When Patrick Clancy returned home to Summer Street in Duxbury, Sprague said he noted the house was quiet. He went to his bedroom, where he told police he saw blood and an open window. He ran to the backyard and found his wife injured but conscious. When he asked where the children were, she told him they were in the basement.
"Immediately after this happened she knew what she had done, she knew where the kids were," Sprague said. "Patrick can be heard on the 911 call entering the basement. At one point, he calls out, 'Guys?' He can then be heard screaming in agony and shock. ... When (police) find Patrick, he yells out, 'She killed the kids.'"
Sprague said the children were all strangled using exercise bands. Cora and Dawson were dead when police arrived. Callan's brain function could not be recovered by medical professionals, and he died several days later. The manner of death, Sprague said, further indicates that the killings were not a crime of passion.
"She had to strangle each of them to unconsciousness, and then keep the bands squeezing their little necks for several minutes. She could have changed her mind at any point in those few minutes, but she didn't," Sprague said. "The defendant did not 'take advantage' of the situation when her husband left the home that night. She created the situation, and she used Apple Maps to ensure she would have enough time to kill each child."
Lindsay Clancy remains hospitalized with several broken bones in her back, and Reddington called her "a paraplegic." Sprague said one of the first questions Clancy asked at the hospital was "Do I need a lawyer?"
Later, while undergoing a mental health evaluation, Clancy used her psychiatrist's phone to call her husband, and told him a voice compelled her to kill the children and herself, Sprague said.
"Mr. Clancy told police the defendant had never heard voices before, and he also told police the defendant had never used the word 'psychosis' with him before," Sprague said. "The first time she uses the word 'psychosis' was when she was with a doctor hired by defense counsel and using his cellphone."
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Reddington: Deaths were 'not planned by any means'
Kevin Reddington, the defense lawyer, said Lindsay Clancy's case is a prime example of a country that routinely fails women seeking treatment for postpartum depression, anxiety or psychosis.
He said Lindsay Clancy was under the care of medical professionals who prescribed her a cocktail of medications that harmed her mental well-being. He described a woman "unable" to feel genuine emotion due to the drugs.
"Our society fails miserably in treating women with postpartum depression or even postpartum psychosis," Reddington said. "It's medicate, medicate, medicate, take the pills and see if that works. If it doesn't, increase the dose."
On Jan. 1, Lindsay Clancy checked herself in to the McLean Hospital for mental health treatment. She left Jan. 5, and had been going back and forth with doctors about prescriptions ever since, he said. Reddington described Lindsay Clancy as "a beautiful woman who was thoroughly destroyed by these medications."
"This is not a situation that was planned by any means. This is a situation that, clearly, is a product of mental illness," he said.
Reddington said he submitted to the court close to 50 letters from doctors, friends and family members hailing Lindsay as an incredible mother, wife and nurse. He said he has also received messages from "around the world" from medical professionals and other mothers sharing their struggles with postpartum mental illness.
"This woman has incredible support. ... Letters from her family, friends, people she has known since the sixth grade who've stayed in touch with her," he said. "Lindsay loved her children."
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A community in shock
The small town of Duxbury and the larger South Shore community responded swiftly to news of the tragedy.
Prayer groups have turned their eyes to Patrick and Lindsay Clancy, and hundreds attended a vigil held days after the children's deaths. About 15,000 people have donated more than $1 million combined to a GoFundMe online fundraiser meant to benefit Patrick Clancy, and the tragedy has sparked a push to recognize and provide support to those struggling with postpartum illnesses such as depression and psychosis.
A private Facebook group called "Lindsay's Army of Love" has more than 500 members.
"We are here, as moms and nurses, to show our love and support for Lindsay and the Clancy family," the group description reads. "Whether you worked with her or saw her in passing, she was one of us. She loved her children and was doing her best to take care of herself. We need to band together to show our open support for one of our own."
In a post on the fundraising page, Patrick Clancy confirmed his wife was struggling with "a condition" and asked the community's forgiveness.
“Our marriage was wonderful and diametrically grew stronger as her condition rapidly worsened,” he wrote. ”I want to ask all of you that you find it deep within yourselves to forgive Lindsay, as I have. The real Lindsay was generously loving and caring towards everyone − me, outside kids, family, friends and her patients. The very fibers of her soul are loving. All I wish for her now is that she can somehow find peace.”
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Reach Mary Whitfill at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article originally appeared on The Patriot Ledger: Lindsay Clancy faces a judge in deaths of Cora, Dawson and Callan