Police in Connecticut believe that the mother of their three children strangled them before hanging herself. According to neighbors, the mother operated an illegal daycare out of her home and informed parents that she couldn’t watch their children the day of the murder-suicide.
On the day she is accused of killing her own children, Junior Panjon, 12, Joselyn Panjon, 10, and Jonael Panjon, 5, Sonia Loja called the parents of about 10 children to ask them not to drop off their children on Wednesday. Then, according to police, Loja committed suicide.
“Yesterday morning, just before 10, a guy came to drop off his kid and she came to the door and said, ‘No, sorry, I can’t watch him today,'” Loja’s Danbury neighbor Elvis Espinal told The Washington Post on Thursday.
Mom 'strangles her three children to death then hangs herself at daycare center home'. Sonia Loja, 36, killed her three kids – Jonael Panjon, 5, Joselyn Panjon, 10, and Junior Panjon, 12. police said on Thursday. 😭"My goodness!" pic.twitter.com/jcO3WACvzS
— Sumner (@renmusb1) July 28, 2022
She explained that she’d called all the rest of them, all the rest of the parents of the kids she watches, and she couldn’t get ahold of one, to tell them not to come that day.”
The house’s occupant, Loja’s brother-in-law, left shortly after but, according to 43-year-old limo driver Espinal, “didn’t see anything weird.”
“He just went to work and he said he didn’t even know anything was wrong until he got a call from his brother,” Espinal said.
According to the neighbor, Loja’s husband, who works in landscaping and had left early in the morning, called 911 late in the day to ask for a wellness check because he had been calling his wife and hadn’t heard from her.
“He called the cops and asked them to do a wellness check and then he came here and he beat the cops here so he went inside and like a couple minutes later he came out and he called 911 and just fainted to the ground,” he said.
Later, when police showed up, they discovered Loja hanging in a shed in the backyard, not far from the playground-style equipment that the daycare kids used, according to the neighbors.
Illegal activities involving kids
Loja received two citations in June from the state Office of Early Childhood for the unauthorized daycare center. An anonymous tip led to her being cited on June 2, but after a follow-up visit four days later, the office discovered that there were still children living there.
Although she claimed they were related, the agency returned on June 29 and discovered the illegal daycare was still in operation. According to spokeswoman Maggie Adair, a “Demand to Cease” was issued during that visit. No children were in Loja’s custody upon a follow-up visit, according to Adair.
On social media on Wednesday night, the father of the kids, Pedro Panjon, posted a heartbreaking image of a black ribbon bearing the words “Rest in peace, now you are in a better place with God” in Spanish.
A number of touching images of Loja and the kids in happier times were also posted by him. One depicted the mother cradling Jonael in her arms over a lit No. 1 candle-topped birthday cake while the other kids watched.