It was an unimaginable tragedy in Oxford, Massachusetts: a young couple dead in an apparent murder-suicide Tuesday night.
Two of the three children inside the home were forced to escape through a window. Another, a 3-year-old toddler, was rescued later by police at the couple's home on Old Webster Road.
"The 13-year-old was a pretty courageous young kid. He took the 4-year-old in his arms and opened a window, ran out the window to a neighbor's house," Worcester District Attorney Joseph Early said Tuesday night.
Neighbors were shaken by what they'd heard about the incident.
Get Boston local news, weather forecasts, lifestyle and entertainment stories to your inbox. Sign up for NBC Boston’s newsletters.
"I don't know that they'll ever be fully okay again after that, it's very sad," Alex Clemens said of the children.
Several neighbors said they heard the couple arguing from time to time over the years.
"Just a bunch of yelling and screaming, I couldn't understand it. It's not my business so I just didn't get involved in it," Jeff Emco said.
In-depth news coverage of the Greater Boston Area.
Clemens remembered, "I said, 'Is everything okay with you guys?' And she goes, 'Yeah, no, we're fine, no big deal,' so I feel like she was probably afraid, to be honest."
The district attorney's office has not officially released the names of the couple involved, but said it appeared to have been a case of domestic violence.
Early said Tuesday it appeared the man killed the woman and then killed himself, and the deaths were being investigated as a murder-suicide. A firearm was recovered at the scene, and both residents of the home were licensed to have a firearm. Police found the woman dead in the kitchen of an apparent gunshot wound and the man dead, also of an apparent gunshot wound, behind the house.
The deceased woman's family and friends were too distraught to go on camera, but they told us she was an amazing mother who loved to laugh and enjoyed nature.
"She was outside gardening, which, I am outside gardening a lot, so we just kind of connected through that," said Clemens. "I know she was a good mother. Always trampolining for the kids, had a fun house for the kids earlier this year."
Another mother who lives nearby, Noreen Welch, dropped off flowers with her son, getting emotional as she remembered seeing the family outside playing in the yard.
"It's just so close and it hits home. I mean, those little kids, they don't deserve that, they don't have a mother now, and that's very, very sad," Welch said.
The woman's relatives said her children are safe with them now, though obviously incredibly distraught over what they witnessed.
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE HELP: Massachusetts provides this list of national, statewide and local resources for victims of domestic violence. The National Domestic Violence Hotline is 1-800-799-7233. Anyone who is in immediate danger or knows someone who is is urged to call 911.