ST. GEORGE, N.B. — Foul play is not suspected in the deaths of four people found in the burned remains of a home in southwestern New Brunswick, police said Wednesday as they continued their investigation into the tragedy.
RCMP Const. Isabelle Beaulieu said autopsies were ordered after the four bodies were recovered Tuesday from the old home in St. George, a town of 1,500 about 120 kilometres south of Fredericton.
Beaulieu couldn't confirm the identities of the victims or their ages.
But Rick Doucet, the area's member of the legislature, said those found inside were Esther Boyd and her adult sons Davey, Billy and Robbie.
Sterling Harris, a town councillor, said Davey Boyd was an honorary firefighter who had been at the fire hall Tuesday morning to see a new fire truck that had arrived that morning, adding that he had headed home at around noon, shortly before the fire.
"Esther was a woman in her 80s and she lost her husband a number of years ago," Doucet said in an interview. "They used to have the Boyd Brothers Hardware Store right there in St. George. It was a local establishment for many, many years."
Doucet said the deaths have left a sorrowful void in the community.
"We've got to determine what the cause was, and from there we've got to set a path forward," he said.
Harris said most residents knew Davey Boyd because he spent much of his time at the fire department, wearing his firefighter's uniform as he cleaned the trucks and their bays.
"Davey was the one that was a social butterfly — everybody in town knew Davey," said Harris, who has known the family for about three decades. "It's devastating on the community ... The whole family going to be missed."
Harris said he went to the same Baptist church as Esther, who raised her sons on her own after her husband died. Doucet said each son, believed to be in their 50s, had mental challenges.
"She dedicated her life to them," Harris said, adding that local firefighters were particularly shaken by the tragedy.
"I went down to the firehall and the guys were in ... counselling because they knew Davey as one of their own ... Davey always wore his uniform proudly and, as a matter of fact, those were his clothes. That's what he wore all the time."
Police were investigating, but had not yet determined the cause of the fire at the home on South Street.
A photo posted on the Town of St. George Facebook page shows a fire truck with a banner across the top of the windshield that reads: "David B. Boyd 1961-2017."
Another post says plans are in the works to pay tribute to the honorary fireman.
"We lost a beloved family and a wonderful honorary member of our fire department for over 40 years," another post from the town says.
"We can not express in words how we are feeling but take comfort in knowing we are a strong community and we will make it through this together."
More than 120 people responded to that message.
"Davey was always so proud of his uniform and his town," said one resident. "He always wore a smile and that smile grew when you acknowledged him and his attire. His mom was a wonderful woman of faith who taught Sunday school when I was a kid and was kind and caring. She worked hard caring for her boys."
Said another: "I knew Esther. What a great example she set as she struggled daily to give her boys her best. I can still see Davey at the restaurant or walking the roads, forever smiling and proudly wearing his uniform ... God bless you St. George."
Danny Soucy, incoming executive director of the New Brunswick Association of Community Living, said there are supports for elderly parents caring for adult children with special needs — but there are plenty of parents who don't ask for help or are simply unaware of what is available for them.
"We have a lot of elderly parents in the province who are asking these questions," said Soucy, whose non-profit agency was established in 1957.
"Some people don't feel comfortable in asking for that help, or even in having their sons or daughters living outside the home ... It's very common."
Soucy said the provincial Social Development Department offers a disability support program for those between the ages of 19 and 64. The program includes drafting a plan to meet the special needs of participants.
"There's some supports that can happen there, but you have to know they exist to apply for them," he said, adding that the association also offers a provincially funded pilot program for "supported living arrangements," which is also tailored to each client's needs.
The Canadian Press
Note to readers: This is a corrected story. Earlier versions had incorrect dates on the banner honouring David B. Boyd.