DANBURY, CT – Last Wednesday, July 27th, Sonia Loja called the parents of ten children who attended her daycare to let them know she would be unable to open for the day.
She was unable to reach the 11th family.
A neighbor, Elvis Espinal, said that the father of that child stopped by around 10 am to drop off his son. Loja met him at the door and apologized saying that she couldn’t watch him for the day.
“Yesterday morning, just before 10, a guy came to drop off his kid and she came to the door and said, ‘No, sorry, I can’t watch him today,'” Espinal told the New York Post.
Later that afternoon, Loja’s husband called police asking for a welfare check. He had left early that morning for his landscaping job but had been unable to get ahold of his wife all day.
He rushed home himself and actually beat responding officers to the residence. He went inside for a few moments and then came outside, called 911 and then fainted in the yard, Espinal recalled.
When police arrived and conducted a search, they found Loja’s three children, 12-year-old Junior Panjon, 10-year-old Joselyn Panjon, and Jonael Panjon, 5, dead in the home.
Continuing the search, police say they found their 36-year-old mother hanging in a shed in the backyard, near the playground that the daycare kids played on every day.
— New York Post (@nypost) July 30, 2022
“Pending an official autopsy, preliminary findings indicate that Ms. Loja strangled her three children before killing herself,” Danbury police said in a statement to The Post. “However, this is still an active investigation.”
Danbury Police Chief Patrick Ridenhour told members of the press that the officers who responded were having difficulty with the grisly nature of what they encountered.
Police are still investigating what led to the suspected murder-suicide.
As it turns out, the daycare that Loja had been running for several years was illegal, at least currently. She was cited twice by the Connecticut Office of Early Childhood the agency told the Post.
She was cited on June 2nd after anonymous tips were received. A follow-up visit four days later revealed that she still had children in the home.
She allegedly told the agency representatives that they children were relatives. So, the agency returned on June 29th, only to find the daycare operational once again.
Office of Early Childhood spokesperson, Maggie Adair, said that they issued a “Demand to Cease” letter to Loja. They returned the next day to find that she had no children in her care other than her own.
Indications would be that the adherence to the cease letter was short-lived, at least heading into the day of their deaths.
Remember that Loja had contacted 10 different families the day of to let them know she would be closed. The other family found out as they were dropping off their son.
The extent and duration of the illegal nature of the daycare remains unknown at this time, but one of the moms who entrusted her kids to Loja said that she had consistently enrolled her two children at the daycare for seven years, according to the paper.
That mom spoke with the Post.
“I can’t believe Sonia did this. I don’t believe what’s happened,” Nube Sucuzhanay, 33, said. “Sonia was a good person. She loved and looked after her kids and was good with the kids she looked after. “I was very comfortable leaving my children with [her].”
A prayer vigil was held outside the home.
A man in attendance did not know the family but still felt a sense of shock and grief.
The father of two, Tomas Vega, asked, “What would make you kill yourself and take the lives of your three kids? Imagine seeing your first kid dead, then the next one, then the third one. Something really bad must have happened.”
This is an ongoing investigation. Should authorities provide updates on the motive or other extenuating factors, we will provide an update for our readers.
Heartbreaking: Police rule fall that killed mother, toddler at San Diego stadium a murder-suicide
SAN DIEGO, CA – A woman who fell to her death at Petco Park while holding her toddler son last September died was a murder-suicide, according to a statement Wednesday from the San Diego Police Department.
Fall that killed mother, toddler at San Diego Padres game ruled murder-suicide: police | CBS 17 https://t.co/aE2ID7Ep5Y
— CBS 17 (@WNCN) January 20, 2022
Raquel Wilkins, 40, and her 2-year-old son, Denzel Browning-Wilkins, fell to their deaths in September last year from the third level of Petco Park before a San Diego Padres game.
San Diego Police Department Lt. Andra Brown issued a press release stating:
“Raquel Wilkins’ death has been classified a suicide and Denzel Browning-Wilkins’ death has been classified a homicide.
“The detectives conducted a thorough and comprehensive investigation that included dozens of interviews, reviewing of available video footage, and collecting background information to determine what led to the deaths.”
The deaths of a mother and toddler who died last year outside Petco Park have been ruled as a murder-suicide, according to San Diego authorities.https://t.co/mdxsoCaRIp
— NBC 7 San Diego (@nbcsandiego) January 21, 2022
Investigators said they conducted dozens of interviews and reviewed background information and available video footage of the Sept. 25 incident. It happened just before a Padres game against the Atlanta Braves.
Wilkins and her son were pronounced dead at 4:11 p.m., about 20 minutes after police were alerted. The pair had fallen from a dining and concessions area on the third-floor concourse, the equivalent of six stories high, to a sidewalk below on 200 Tony Gwynn Way, police said.
The deaths of a mother and her toddler son in a fall from a third-floor concourse at Petco Park prior to a San Diego Padres game in the autumn have been ruled a murder-suicide, authorities said Wednesday. https://t.co/rAAFGawgeq pic.twitter.com/pahi3z72G3
— KPBS News (@KPBSnews) January 20, 2022
The ruling into their deaths was made in consultation with the San Diego County Medical Examiner.
Lt. Brown thanked those that came forward with information that helped investigators find out the truth of what happened:
“SDPD understands the public’s concern and interest in this tragedy that happened publicly in a venue where the community gathers.
“We would like to thank all those who came forward with information.”
The San Diego Padres baseball organization released a statement following the police announcement:
“In light of today’s statement from the San Diego Police Department, we want to reiterate our deepest sympathy and condolences to the family of those involved in this tragedy.”
ESPN reported that Wilkins’ parents and sisters have filed a suit against the venue and the city and believe law enforcement has not shared information with them about the investigation.
San Diego Mom And Son's Fatal Fall At September Padres Game Ruled Murder-Suicide https://t.co/uNWWSxbVQm via @YahooNews I want to see the videos. Sounds like she could have stupidly fallen over the railing. Even a fuzzy video would show if she was pushed.
— Louis D'Marsh (@LouisDMarsh1) January 22, 2022
Dan Gilleon, an attorney who represents the family, expressed disappointment over the lack of information shared with the family by the San Diego police about the investigation and how they came to their conclusions.
At least one witness reported that Wilkins was standing on a bench laughing while holding the child when she fell over the railing. San Diego police originally called the death “suspicious.”
The child’s father was also at the stadium at the time of the incident but has refused interviews.
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