Murder-suicide of Connecticut mother Sonia Loja leaves Danbury community in shock

A mom who sent her children to the Connecticut daycare center of a woman accused of killing her own children before taking her own life said Thursday she was shocked by the triple murder-suicide.

The woman attended a vigil for the slain family outside their Danbury home on Thursday night and refused to believe Sonia Loja, 36, would strangle her three children.

“I can’t believe Sonia did this. I don’t believe what happened,” Nube Sucuzhanay, 33, told The Post.

“Sonia was a good person. She loved and cared for her children and was kind to the children she cared for.

Sucuzhanay said Loja came to the United States from Ecuador about 15 years ago. Sucuzhanay entrusted Loja with her two children and enrolled them in her daycare for seven years.

“I was very comfortable leaving my children with Sonia,” she said. “[She was] so good with children and so kind.

Loja ran illegal daycare outside her home and told parents of about 10 children she couldn’t watch them on Wednesday – the same day police believe she killed her own children, Junior Panjon, 12 years old, Joselyn, 10 years old. Panjon and Jonael Panjon, 5 years old. Loja then committed suicide.

A woman can be seen crying outside Sonia Loja’s residence in Danbury, Connecticut on July 28, 2022.
Stephane Yang
Members of an Ecuadorian community in Danbury gather at the home of 36-year-old Sonia Loja on July 28, 2022 in Danbury.
Community members gather at the home of Sonia Loja on July 28, 2022 in Danbury.
Stephane Yang

Loja allegedly strangled each child one by one before hanging herself in a shed in the garden of her home, police said. Her husband and father of the children, Pedro Panjon, found the bodies when he returned home and passed out at the grisly discovery.

Sucuzhanay was one of about 50 mourners who gathered outside the house on Thursday evening for a vigil organized by the large Ecuadorian community in the area. Mourners sang hymns, said prayers and lit candles for over an hour.

They created a makeshift memorial for the slain children by placing prayer candles, flowers, white balloons and a teddy bear on the steps of the house.

Toys and other personal effects are displayed on Sonia Loja's porch on July 28, 2022 in Danbury.
Toys and other personal effects are displayed on Sonia Loja’s porch on July 28, 2022 in Danbury.
Stephane Yang
Police believe Sonia Loja killed her children, Junior Panjon, 12, Joselyn Panjon, 10, and Jonael Panjon, 5.
Police believe Sonia Loja killed her children, Junior Panjon, 12, Joselyn Panjon, 10, and Jonael Panjon, 5.
Pedro Panjon/Facebook

A young participant who attended Saint Peter’s School with Joselyn from kindergarten through third grade said her late classmate was fiercely smart and kind.

“Joselyn was a very smart, creative and helpful person,” said 11-year-old Katelyn Jimenez. “Joselyn was always there when you needed her. She would comfort anyone going through a difficult time.

Katelyn said Joselyn excelled in math and helped her when she struggled with math equations.

“To me, it looked like she was living a great life,” Katelyn said. “She was very positive. She was excellent in art and music, but she was also very smart in mathematics.

“I feel sad,” she added. “She was a good classmate and a good friend.”

Tomas Vega, 31, was among many mourners who felt compelled to join the vigil in support of the family, despite not knowing Loja or her children personally.

Vega, a father of two, didn’t understand Loja’s latest violent act.

“What would make you kill yourself and take the lives of your three children?” Vega asked in disbelief. “Imagine seeing your first child dead, then the next, then the third. Something really bad must have happened.

If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts or experiencing a mental health crisis and live in New York City, you can call 1-888-NYC-WELL for free, confidential crisis counseling. If you live outside the five boroughs, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255 or go to SuicidePreventionLifeline.org.

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