By Rich McKay and Steve Gorman
(Reuters) - A mother found dead with her two young children on a Boston sidewalk outside a high-rise parking garage apparently pushed or threw the youngsters from the roof of the structure before leaping to her own death, authorities said on Thursday.
The Christmas Day deaths of Erin Pascal, aged 40, her 4-year-old daughter, Allison, and her 16-month-old son, Andrew, are under investigation as a double-murder and suicide, Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins told reporters.
"The evidence suggests" the mother jumped to her death after causing her two children to fall to their deaths, Rollins, who is overseeing the investigation, told a news conference.
Pascal, her son and daughter were residents of Boston's West Roxbury neighborhood. Authorities have provided no information about Pascal's marital status or the identity of the children's father.
The woman and two children were found lifeless on the pavement at the base of the Renaissance Park Garage on Wednesday afternoon and were pronounced dead at an area hospital a short time later.
Two other people have jumped to their deaths from the same parking structure, adjacent to a transit station near the Northeastern University campus, in unrelated incidents earlier this year - one on May 20 and another on Dec. 9, Rollins said.
"Today is an extremely sad day as we begin to put together the pieces of a tragedy that took place yesterday, on Christmas," Rollins said. "For a parent to come to the place in which they harm their children in this way indicates that their mental health struggles were severe and in need of immediate supports."
She urged anyone who is suffering from suicidal thoughts or knows someone else who is to reach out to various mental health hotlines for help.
Rollins said no suicide notes in connection with the Pascal case have been found, and there were no known complaints lodged with authorities about the mother.
The prosecutor described the scene as "awful" and especially heartrending because it occurred on Christmas.
"There were children's shoes and an adult shoe. Just belongings from the children and the mother strewn upon the street. The impact of the fall was visible from the street," Rollins said.
Aerial TV news footage from the scene the day of the tragedy showed investigators huddled around a sport utility vehicle left parked on the garage rooftop beside the structure's retaining wall, about nine levels up from the street.
The area around the SUV, with three of its doors left open, had been cordoned off with yellow crime-scene tape. Rollins said on Wednesday that two child seats had been found in the vehicle.
(Reporting by Rich McKay in Atlanta and Steve Gorman in Culver City, Calif.; Additional reporting by Daniel Trotta in New York; Editing by Leslie Adler and Sandra Maler)