What we learned from Duxbury mom Lindsay Clancy’s superior court arraignment

Crime

“It’s readily apparent … that this woman was a troubled soul.” 

The backyard playground swing set with children’s toys at the home where 33-year-old nurse Lindsay Clancy allegedly strangled her three children. David L. Ryan/Boston Globe Staff, File

The Duxbury woman accused of strangling her three children last January pleaded not guilty to murder charges on Thursday, appearing before a judge at the state-run hospital where she continues to receive psychiatric care. 

Sitting in a wheelchair and wearing a blue surgical mask, 33-year-old Lindsay Clancy listened silently as prosecutor Jennifer Sprague ran through a timeline leading up to the evening of Jan. 24, when Clancy allegedly strangled her children and severely injured herself in a suicide attempt.

Hospitalized since the slayings, Clancy was arraigned at Tewksbury Hospital on three counts each of murder and strangulation in the deaths of 5-year-old Cora, 3-year-old Dawson, and 8-month-old Callan Clancy.

Dueling portraits of the young mother emerged Thursday as prosecutor Jennifer Sprague and defense attorney Kevin J. Reddington went head to head, the lawyers clashing over whether Clancy was in her right mind at the time of the alleged attacks.

Here’s what we learned from Clancy’s arraignment: 

‘Can you treat a sociopath?’

According to Sprague, Clancy searched “Can you treat a sociopath?” on the internet a few days before allegedly killing her children. 

Clancy had reportedly been struggling with her mental health in the months prior, starting with anxiety ahead of her return to work following the birth of her third child. She saw several mental health care providers and was prescribed a slew of medications leading up to the killings, according to court documents and statements from her attorney.

Lindsay Clancy’s Plymouth Superior Court arraignment was held at Tewksbury Hospital with Zoom access for members of the public. – Plymouth Superior Court via Zoom

Investigators also recovered several notebooks where Clancy documented her mental state, wrote about her children’s lives, and kept track of the medications she was taking, Sprague said, describing the writing as clear and articulate. 

Yet Clancy’s ability to take coherent notes doesn’t necessarily mean she wasn’t struggling, Reddington contended. He asserted that Clancy was “obviously” suffering from postpartum depression.

In the weeks and months prior to the killings, “She was in such a state, she was unable to emote,” he said. “She was unable to feel. She had no ability to love, whether it was her husband or her kids.”

Describing his client as a “marvelous, incredible mother” prior to the alleged murders, Reddington ascribed Clancy’s mental state to postpartum depression and medications.

“She obviously had no reason to kill those three beautiful children,” he said. “You have to ask yourself why. Why? And when you ask yourself why, you consider all of these factors, it’s readily apparent … that this woman was a troubled soul.” 

What her blood tests revealed

Pushing back on defense assertions that Clancy was overmedicated, Sprague noted that a psychiatrist who reviewed Clancy’s medical records testified before a grand jury that trying medications in various combinations and dosages is routine when a patient is initially figuring out what treatment works best for them. 

According to Sprague, a toxicology analysis of blood samples taken from Clancy after she arrived at the hospital on Jan. 24 revealed seven prescription medications in her system, including several antidepressants, a mood stabilizer, and two anti-anxiety drugs. 

Most were found in therapeutic doses, Sprague said, noting that only two — antidepressant Remeron and antipsychotic Seroquel — were found at higher levels. In fact, she said, both drugs were found at “peak levels,” indicating they were consumed around two hours before Clancy’s blood was drawn. 

According to Sprague, those levels were a sign Clancy took the medications shortly after allegedly killing her children.

How severe were her injuries?

The prosecutor also described wounds to Clancy’s wrists and neck as minor and superficial, asserting that Clancy “did not slit her wrists or slice them open.” 

Reddington, however, pushed back on the description of Clancy’s wounds as minor, noting that he’d been inside the family’s home and seen the blood spattering, which he described as “copious.” 

Plymouth District Court search warrant applications unsealed this week describe multiple cuts to both of Clancy’s wrists, as well as several lacerations and a “deep cut” on the right side of her neck. 

According to Sprague, Clancy also sustained broken ribs, some broken bones in her back, and a spinal cord transection at the T5-T6 level in her mid-back. 

Citing blood smeared on the home’s exterior, Sprague alleged that Clancy climbed out of her bedroom window and then either dropped or slid down, rather than jumping or hurling herself out. 

“I don’t think she took into account the fact the ground was frozen,” Sprague said. 

Clancy’s status today

Dr. Karin Towers, a forensic psychologist who spoke with Clancy prior to her arraignment, recommended that Clancy remain at a psychiatric treatment facility. She told the court that Clancy continues to have depression, thoughts of suicide, and a flat affect with little emotion.

According to Towers, the Duxbury woman describes herself “unbearably depressed” and has been experiencing “intrusive thoughts and flashbacks” on a daily basis.

Determining that Clancy still poses a serious risk of harming herself, Plymouth Superior Court Judge William Sullivan ordered her to remain committed at Tewksbury Hospital and set her next court date for Dec. 15.


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