Massachusetts mother strangles three children bringing PPD to light

Published by Matthew Glover, Date: February 3, 2023

CONTENT WARNING: This article contains mentions of homicide, attempted suicide and depression. Please use caution before reading.

Updated on Feb. 9 at 12:20 P.M.

Prosecutors alleged Tuesday that Lindsay Clancy, the Massachusetts mother accused of strangling her three children, planned the murders in advance and was of sound mind at the time of their deaths, according to CBS Boston.

Clancy was arraigned by video conference from her hospital bed. She is now paralyzed from the waist down after suffering several spinal fractures and spinal cord injuries after jumping out the window, according to her attorney Kevin Reddington.

Prosecutors allege that Clancy asked her husband, Patrick, to get children’s medication from CVS and takeout food, and she researched how long the trip would take. When her husband returned, he told police, he found the couple’s upstairs bedroom door locked. He unlocked the door and went into the bathroom to find blood in front of a mirror near an open window.

Patrick called the police when he found his wife in the backyard conscious and seriously injured. When he asked what she had done, she allegedly said, “I tried to kill myself.”

Prosecutors said Patrick could be heard on the phone asking where the kids are to which Lindsay Clancy allegedly replied, “in the basement.”

Patrick discovered in the basement that his children had been strangled using exercise bands.

Lindsay Clancy has also now been charged with the murder of her eight-month-old baby, Callan, in addition to her other two kids.

“She planned these murders, gave herself the time and privacy to commit these murders, and then strangled each child in the place where they should have felt safest – at home with their mom,” Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Sprague said.

Reddington countered that she had repeatedly sought help for postpartum depression since Callan’s birth, the New York Times reported.

Clancy was “overmedicated” and prescribed as many as 12 different medications in a four-month period for postpartum psychosis before the incident, and Patrick was never told not to leave her alone with the kids, Reddington said.

“She is flat as a board – she’s wondering what is going on,” Dr. Paul Zeizel, a psychologist hired by Clancy’s lawyer, said.

Zeizel also described Clancy as in a “flat” emotional state caused by a combination of pain, psychotic medicines and her depression, as reported by the New York Post.

Prosecutors said that Lindsay Clancy used a doctor’s cell phone to call her husband and leave a voicemail saying she loved him on Feb. 5. She called him a day later and allegedly told him she heard a man’s voice telling her that killing herself and her kids “was her last chance.”

Patrick Clancy said there were no indications that his wife was a danger to her children or herself, saying she “was having one of her best days.”

A judge has ordered that she remain hospitalized until medically cleared to be moved to a rehabilitation facility where she will receive constant care. She could also be placed on house arrest if she recovers from her injuries.

Clancy previously received treatment after experiencing suicidal thoughts in December through January. She allegedly kept journal entries in the months leading up to the incident. Prosecutors said she “meticulously detailed her daily activities” and her “writing was clear, precise and articulate.” She also mentioned “a touch of postpartum anxiety” about returning to work and was originally diagnosed with general anxiety disorder.

A Massachusetts mother suffering from postpartum depression (PPD) allegedly strangled her three children before jumping out the window of their Summer Street home on Jan. 24.

Lindsay Clancy, 32, was charged with two counts of murder, three counts of strangulation or suffocation and three counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. She is expected to be arraigned after she is released from the hospital.

In Massachusetts, a first-degree murder conviction carries an automatic life sentence without parole.

Clancy is recovering from her suicide attempt in a Boston hospital and is in police custody. First responders initially found her conscious with lacerations on her wrist and neck and other back injuries. The three children were found unconscious inside.

“It was over a 20-foot fall,” the dispatcher said in a recording from Broadcastify.

Five-year-old Cora and three-year-old Dawson were pronounced dead at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital in Plymouth, according to WCVB.

John Sullivan, a next-door neighbor, said his son called him Tuesday telling him, “The mother was laying down in the backyard.” When he arrived home, Sullivan walked to the Clancy’s house and saw first responders performing CPR on the baby.

Support services are being offered to emergency workers who went to the Clancy home, Duxbury Fire Chief Rob Reardon said.

Eight-month-old Callan was flown to Boston Children’s Hospital and was pronounced dead on Jan. 24, according to Plymouth County District Attorney Timothy Cruz.

Cruz shared at a press conference the next day that the infant was hospitalized with “evidence of harm” but did not give further details. Cruz has not shared if there will be a third homicide charge after the baby’s death.

Clancy was on leave as a labor and delivery nurse at Massachusetts General Hospital and attending “a very intensive five-day-a-week program for PPD trying to get help,” reported local radio host John DePetro, citing a family friend.

Clancy’s husband, Patrick Clancy, “was working from home instead of going in to work to be able to try and support her daily,” the friend said.

The tragedy occurred in the 25 minutes it took him to get takeout, DePetro reported.

Clancy received her nursing license in 2014, according to state records, and holds a bachelor’s degree in nursing from the Massachusetts General Hospital Institute of Health Professions. She enjoyed posting to Facebook about her family.

She considered herself “the luckiest mama in the whole wide world” in a 2019 post displaying a picture of her daughter embracing her son.

In July, Clancy spoke openly about her previous struggles with postpartum anxiety in a Facebook post. She then wrote six weeks after the birth of her third child that she felt “dialed in,” and was focusing on exercise, nutrition and her mindset.

“It has made all the difference,” she said.

On Jan. 28, her husband released a statement encouraging forgiveness for his wife.

“I want to ask all of you that you find it deep within yourselves to forgive Lindsay, as I have,” he wrote. “The real Lindsay was generously loving and caring toward everyone – me, our kids, family, friends and her patients. The very fibers of her souls are loving. All I wish for her now is that she can somehow find peace.”

In his statement, he wrote a paragraph for each of his three kids detailing what being their father meant to him.

“My family was the best thing that ever happened to me,” he wrote. “I took so much pride in being Lindsay’s husband and a dad to Cora, Dawson and Callan. I always reminded myself that each day with them was a new gift.”

Down the road from the home, the St. Paul’s Church of Nazarene also opened its doors as “a place to pray for this family” while providing food and refreshments.

“What we’re trying to do here is just to be open and available,” pastor Jeremy Stanford said. “If someone needs to talk, or if someone wants to pray, or if someone wants to grieve, just do it together as a community.”

Matthew Glaser created a GoFundMe on behalf of the extended Clancy family that is “intended to help Pat pay for medical bills, funeral services and legal help.”

The campaign has received more than 15,000 donations and surpassed its goal of $1 million.

According to the Office on Women’s Health (OWH), one in nine new mothers experience postpartum depression.

PPD usually begins within the first month after childbirth but can also begin during pregnancy or up to a year after childbirth.

“The piece I struggled with was wanting to control everything with my son,” SRU President’s Commission on Women co-chair and assistant athletics director for compliance/SWA Andrea Miller Grady said. “I wasn’t detached, but I didn’t really want other people to become attached to him.”

She explained that she had not felt all the effects of PPD but experienced some effects and has watched it damage others’ mental health.

She wanted to focus on her relationship with him, she said.

Most women experience minor depressive symptoms following childbirth, but they usually go away after three to five days.

Consulting a doctor becomes necessary if the mother has experienced feelings of sadness, hopelessness and emptiness for two weeks or longer.

Some mothers may not tell others about their symptoms because they feel embarrassed, ashamed or guilty about feeling depressed at a happy time in their lives, the OWH said.

“I never shared that I struggled with separation anxiety with anybody—not even to the doctor,” Miller Grady said.

Researchers think postpartum depression could be caused by the drastic drop in estrogen and progesterone after childbirth. During pregnancy, these hormones are at the highest level they will ever be before dropping to pre-pregnancy levels in the first 24 hours after childbirth.

Levels of thyroid hormones may also drop after childbirth, which can also cause symptoms of depression. However, thyroid levels can be measured in a blood test to quickly correct the problem.

These changes are similar to the hormone changes before a woman’s menstrual cycle but involve more extreme swings.

Women may be at greater risk for PPD if they have a history of depression or related disorders that negatively affect mental health.

Symptoms can also develop if new mothers lack support, had problems with pregnancy or birth, have difficulty breastfeeding, have a baby with special needs or are under 20.

PPD can also cause problems for the child including language development, social and learning difficulties, behavioral problems, shorter height, problems coping with stress and a weak bond with their mother.

At SRU, the President’s Commission on Women has investigated what resources they can make available to staff and students becoming mothers. Most recently, they worked with HR to study “children in the workplace” policies to give parents more flexibility.

“It’s important for people to understand that postpartum affects people in different ways,” Miller Grady said. “A lot of moms try to hide it because they don’t want to seem like anything’s wrong or that they can’t care for themselves or their child.”

“I don’t know if there’s enough done to try to help moms in that space,” she said.


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