A woman who killed herself and her sister's two small children by walking into oncoming traffic on Interstate 495 had a minor car accident and was cited by State Police just hours before the double slaying and suicide.
Marcelle "Marci" Thibault, 39, of Bellingham showed no signs of impairment when three troopers arrived on I-495 North in Andover around 6:50 p.m. on Jan. 11, State Police Captain Barry O'Brien said yesterday.
She told troopers she must have fallen asleep at the wheel and struck a guardrail, causing minor damage to the side-view mirror, O'Brien said.
Another motorist had stopped to assist and told police Thibault appeared agitated, but she was rational and responsive when troopers arrived, O'Brien said.
"They interacted with her for about 15 minutes, and they didn't observe any impairment, no signs of any drug or alcohol," he said. "She had a valid license, so after she was cited, she continued on her way."
Less than three hours later, she killed herself and her twin sister's two children by walking into oncoming traffic on the same highway.
After she was earlier cited for failure to stay in marked lanes, Thibault drove to the home of her sister in Brentwood, N.H., where she picked up her 5-year-old niece, Kaleigh Lambert, and 4-year-old nephew, Shane Lambert, for a planned sleepover party.
On her way home, authorities say, Thibault pulled over to the side of I-495 South in Lowell, undressed herself and the children, took them in her arms, and walked into oncoming traffic. They were fatally struck by two cars.
Middlesex District Attorney Gerry Leone has said the woman had a brief history of mental illness. Family spokesman Paul Young said he knew about the accident but did not know the details. He said he does not think the accident changes anything.
"From the family's perspective, they are grieving their loss," he said. "It's just one more layer of information. Their focus is on the loss of three people they loved. I think that's what it's been from day one and continues to be, as they pick up the pieces of their lives and try to cope with those losses."