April 14, 2011

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Mother’s suicide, murder of her children rocks the community

Teddy bear placed on the boat dock near where the van
disappeared Tuesday night. Media satellite trucks spent
all of Wednesday transmitting the tragedy to the world.

53 William St. apartment where the mother and children
lived. The estranged father lived elsewhere.

NEWBURGH – Word of a mother’s suicide and murders of three of her four children in the City of Newburgh reverberated across the Hudson Valley Wednesday.

LaShandra Armstrong, 25, of Newburgh, drove her minivan into the Hudson River Tuesday night. She perished along with three of her four children, ages five, two and 11 months. Her 10-year-old son opened a window and escaped.

Tina Clayborne was a neighbor to the family on William Street in Newburgh.

“She was very outgoing, a very nice lady. She didn’t bother nobody,” she said. “She was a hard worker. She took very good care of her kids. The kids were very well manners, clean and well fed.”

Mayor Nicholas Valentine said this is by far the worst tragedy Newburgh has experienced.

“We are talking about a tragedy in this city that I would say is second to none,” he said. “We have had homicides here, we have had children that have been victimized in this city but I don’t think to the degree that we are dealing with the situation we are dealing today could it be more tragic.”

Armstrong spent her early years in Rockland County before her family moved to Middletown where she was a high school classmate and friend to current Middletown School Board member Roy Paul, who said he was “heartbroken and saddened” to hear of the family’s tragedy.

“She will be remembered, not only for her warmth, her kindness, her passion, but also for her unwavering friendship and loyalty to those she knew and loved,” he said. “It’s truly a sad day; it’s almost unbelievable in some respects.”

Friends and relatives placed flowers at the waterfront Wednesday in memory of the lost family.


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