A community stood as one during a candlelight vigil Friday where hundreds of people showed up on a cold night to pay their respects to the Perry family.
Two young North Stonington boys, Alton Perry, 2, and his 6-month-old brother, Ashton, died Tuesday in what police say was a double murder-suicide committed by their grandmother, Debra Denison, 47, of Stonington.
The vigil was organized by community members who wanted to show support for the family after their tragic loss. Beginning at 7 p.m., the Wheeler High School chorus sang songs as people lit candles and the family filed into seats reserved just for them. Pastor Larry Chappell of the North Stonington Bible Church gave a short sermon, which was meant to comfort and console the attendees.
“We are here to remember these lives cut short," he said. “May your presence tonight be that expression of love and care needed at this time.”
Chappell said that God has been left out of the public debate for too long and that the world would be a better place if God were a part of the conversation. He concluded his remarks with a promise to the Perry family.
“We pledge to you our long-term prayer and support,” he said. “The remembrance of your loss and suffering will not soon leave us.”
Jeremy Perry, father of the two boys, stood and addressed the massive crowd and people stood silently as he spoke, their candles flickering under a starless sky.
“We never had any clue there were so many people praying for us, thank you,” he said.
His wife, Brenda, stood weeping next to him as he spoke. He described the boys as joyful and loving and said “they wouldn’t want to see us sad.”
“Life goes so fast,” said Perry. “This is a phenomenal example of how fast life can be. Never take anyone for granted and tell them you love them.”