Erin Pascal was a communications and community relations professional identified as the young mother whose body was found on the sidewalk near a Boston-area parking garage along with the bodies of her two young children. Police believe the tragedy was likely a double murder-suicide perpetrated by Pascal on Christmas Day.
Suffolk District Attorney Rachael Rollins named the deceased as Pascal, 40, of West Roxbury, and her 2 young children: Allison, 4, and Andrew, just 1.
“This entire family in a matter of minutes except for the father who survives them is gone,” Rollins said. “…The level of potential despair that one must feel to engage in this behavior… there’s help available, and we sincerely hope that people use it.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The District Attorney Called the Tragedy ‘Unspeakable’
The DA called the three deaths a tragedy. “This horrible situation highlights the invisible struggles many members of our community confront and the devastation that can result,” said Rollins in a news conference.
She extended her sincere condolences to the family and said that, “Yesterday, the unspeakable happened.”
The exact sequence of events is not yet clear. The Boston Globe reported that Pascal “killed herself after her two children fell to their deaths in a likely double murder-suicide.” NBC Connecticut reported that the mother and her children “fell from a parking garage in Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood.” The Providence Journal reported that it’s believed that “the two children fell from the garage’s roof first, followed by Pascal,” although how the children died is not 100 percent clear.
Rollins revealed that the evidence suggests that the deaths were “very likely a double murder suicide.” The deaths occurred at the Renaissance parking garage near the Ruggles MBTA station between 1:25 p.m. and 1:35 p.m. on Christmas Day.
Rollins said that there may have been a 911 call but didn’t elaborate. Rollins also said that investigators were still putting together the pieces of how exactly the tragedy unfolded. An SUV with three open doors was found at the scene.
2. Pascal Worked as Director of Corporate Social Responsibility for a Biotech Company
On LinkedIn, Pascal wrote that she was “Director, Corporate Social Responsibility and Community Relations at Sanofi Genzyme,” which is a biotechnology company based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She had worked there for more than six years.
She was previously the company’s director and associate director of corporate communications.
Before that, she worked for Vertex Pharmaceuticals in Cambridge, Massachusetts, as manager of product communications. She was manager of corporate communications for a company named Genzyme and a senior public relations specialist for Milton Hospital in Milton, Massachusetts. (You can see one of her old press releases here. She was quoted over the years in various news articles as a company spokesperson.)
Rollins urged people to get help if they feel suicidal. “You can call or text the Samaritans Statewide Hotline 877-870-HOPE (4673),” she said in the press conference.
“Help is also available through the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by calling 800-273-TALK (8255); military veterans and their loved ones should press “1” for the Veterans Crisis Line. The Trevor Lifeline is available to help lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth and young adults at 866-4-U-TREVOR (488-7386). If you believe that you or another individual is at immediate risk of harm, you can always call 911. Additional resources can be found through the Massachusetts Coalition for the Prevention of Suicide.”
3. Pascal, Who Was Described as Intense & Mature, Was a Former Reporting Intern Who Attended Brown University
According to her LinkedIn page, before embarking on her career in public relations and corporate communications, Pascal was a journalist.
She worked as a reporter for the Providence Journal for 2 years from 2001 to 2003. She had a bachelor’s degree in English from Brown University, graduating in 2001, she wrote on LinkedIn.
The Providence Journal reported that Pascal, then known as Erin Emlock, was a two-year reporting intern at the newspaper. “She was a really mature, together young person,” said Jennifer Jordan, who worked with Pascal, to the Journal. “She did a really good job in South County. But she realized that while she liked reporting, she might not love it enough to stick with it.”
Tracy Breton, a former Journal reporter, taught Pascal at Brown University, and told The Journal: “She was a very serious journalism student. She worked at the Brown Daily Herald. She was very intense. She was always willing to go the extra mile. She really loved interviewing people. She was always looking for ways to make things better.”
4. It Wasn’t That Long Ago That Relatives Were Celebrating Erin’s Baby Shower
In what is now a tragic posting on Facebook, in 2015, a relative wrote, “I was attending my niece Erin E. Pascal’s baby shower. This goes on a long list of life’s milestones that have filled our hearts with joy. She always delivers!” That post and an old family obituary gave her husband’s name as Adam.
Erin and her husband married in 2013, according to Facebook posts.
Erin’s visible posts on her public Facebook page are sparse; her profile picture shows her with one of her young children, and her cover picture is of a beach. She wrote that she was from Woodland Hills, California.
Rollins, who said she believed the children were the only children of Pascal and her husband, gave more details of the tragedy to WBUR radio’s “Morning Edition” host Bob Oakes.
“It was awful. There were children’s shoes and the mother’s shoe. There were belongings from the children and the mother strewn upon the street,” she said, according to The Boston Globe.
“The impact of the fall was visible from the street.”
Michael MacNeil, president of BPPA/EMS Division, wrote on Twitter, “8 Boston EMTs, 4 Paramedics, 2 supervisors, & 1 member of Special Operations responded to the tragedy at Ruggles today. Three patients were given the best possible care we could provide, but it was not enough to save their lives.”
5. The Parking Garage Was the Site of Two Other Recent Suicides
The district attorney reminded the community that “yesterday’s deaths sadly occurred at the same location as two other separate suicides this years. The first occurred on May 20 and second occurred on December 9, and yesterday December 25 marked the third separate tragedy and the third, fourth and fifth deaths at this Northeastern university garage in the last seven months.”
She stressed: “If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, there are services available to help you.”
“No matter the season, being a parent can be incredibly stressful. There’s help available for any parent struggling with the emotional hardships of raising a family,” said Rollins, adding, “Every death in our community has significant impact.”
The May 20 suicide was of Alexander Urtula, a Boston College student. His girlfriend, Inyoung You, is accused of involuntary manslaughter in connection with the case. She was accused of being “physically, verbally and psychologically abusive” toward Urtula during an “18-month-long tumultuous relationship.” There haven’t been many details revealed about the suicide that occurred in early December 2019.
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