Conn. boys slain by grandma had gunshot wounds

By the Associated Press | March 1, 2013 | 10:29 PM EST

CORRECTS AGES AND LAST NAMES OF THE BOYS - This photo released by the Connecticut State Police during an Amber Alert Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013, shows Alton Perry, 2, left, and Ashton Perry, 6 months old, right, who were taken from their daycare by their grandmother Tuesday afternoon. State police said the bodies of Ashton and Alton Perry and their grandmother, Debra Denison, 47, were found Tuesday night in Preston, Conn. Connecticut state police are calling the shooting deaths a double murder-suicide and say she had permission to pick them up from their daycare. (AP Photo/Connecticut State Police)

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — The two boys who were killed by their grandmother before she committed suicide this week each had multiple gunshot wounds, the state medical examiner's office said Friday.

The examiner's office said the grandmother, 47-year-old Debra Denison, died of a gunshot wound to the head. The cause of death was formally ruled a suicide for Denison and homicide for the boys.

Police say Denison left a suicide note and took a revolver from her house before picking up 2-year-old Alton Perry and 6-month-old Ashton Perry on Tuesday afternoon at their day care in North Stonington. Their bodies were found in a van hours later after a frantic search.

Hundreds of people attended a vigil Friday night in North Stonington to remember the boys and support their parents, Jeremy and Brenda Perry.

Jeremy Perry told the crowd: "Your support is probably the only reason we're still on our feet right now," The Day of New London reported.

Family members said Denison, Brenda Perry's mother, had struggled with mental illness, but she had appeared to improve in recent months. She was on the list of people authorized to pick up the boys at the day care, and the boys' mother had told the center the grandmother would be picking them up that day. Tuesday was Alton's birthday, and she was supposed to bring him back to the house for a party.

Staff at the day care said Denison was friendly and showed no signs of distress. A spokesman for the slain boys' parents said the day care staff followed protocol and the parents do not blame them for what happened.

Alton died of gunshot wounds to the head and Ashton died of multiple gunshot wounds, the medical examiner's office said.

State police say they are investigating issues including who purchased the revolver, how Denison obtained it and her history of mental illness.