- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 19, 2009

MIDDLETOWN, MD. (AP) - A woman authorities say was killed along with her three children by her husband in a murder-suicide was remembered Sunday as someone who immersed herself in the church her parents helped found, teaching catechism and volunteering in the nursery.

After Mass at Holy Family Catholic Community Church, the Rev. Kevin Farmer said Francis Billotti Wood was “the kind of parishioner I would wish for.”

Her husband, Christopher Alan Wood killed his wife and children, then himself, in their northwest Maryland home, leaving a gruesome scene authorities said was found Saturday by the children’s grandfather. The 33-year-old mother and three children suffered “traumatic cuts” and each also had at least one gunshot wound from a .25-caliber handgun, Frederick County Sheriff Charles Jenkins said.

At masses Sunday morning, Farmer tried to help parishioners deal with the deaths, telling them not to focus on the questions they can’t answer but on those they could, asking them to respond to the questions posed at baptism about rejecting sin and accepting God.

Farmer said he planned a private mass for the slain mother’s parents and others later Sunday.

Deacon George Sisson, who read the sermon at mass, said some have said they felt angry and often weren’t sure exactly why.

Joe Parker, 64, said his daughter, Melissa Parker, and Francis Wood went to school together and were members of the Girl Scouts. He said he wonders if there was more he could have done to prevent the deaths.

“We need to be more involved in other people’s lives and we’re not,” Parker said.

When authorities arrived Saturday at the two-story home, the couple’s two sons, ages 5 and 4, lay dead in their beds, while the bodies of a 2-year-old daughter and the mother were in the master bedroom, Frederick County sheriff’s office spokeswoman Jennifer Bailey said. On the master bedroom floor by the foot of the bed was the 34-year-old father, dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, she said.

Sheriff Jenkins said Christopher Wood left behind five notes before fatally shooting himself, including an apology to family members and hints that he suffered from psychiatric problems. The sheriff also said there was evidence that Wood faced financial problems and may have been in debt.

Neighbors placed stuffed animals, balloons and flowers Sunday along the porch railing on the yellow home where the bodies were found.

Randel Edwards, 50, placed a handwritten sign on the rail above a flower bed.

“Billotti and Wood families. We love you and hold you in our prayers,” the sign read. “Your loved ones are greatly missed. May heaven dry your tears.”

Edwards said he hoped some good would come out of the tragedy and lead those who are “experiencing difficulties” to realize “that there are people that want to help.”

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