California Mom Loses Both Children on Mother's Day

On Mother's Day, Jodie Carrigan stared heartbreak in the face. Inside her house lay the bodies of her daughter and the young man she'd been dating, dead from multiple stab wounds.

Hours later came the second blow.

Rushing home, Carrigan's son, Billy, lost control of his pickup truck and crashed into a stand of trees, sustaining injuries that killed him two days later.

It is an unimaginable loss.

"I just couldn't believe it — a woman having that much suffering in one day," said longtime neighbor Larry Maxey. "Oh, it's terrible."

The deaths — and the arrest of a local teenager in the crimes — have left many in this small Northern California town grasping for answers.

"In a small community where everybody's grown up together and they know each other, the shock is just numbing," said Brian Johnson, assistant principal of Chester Junior-Senior High.

So far, authorities haven't released many details about the double killings.

What is known is that Jenny Carrigan and Steven Furtado, both 18, were found dead on May 11 in the Carrigan home in tiny Chester, a town of 2,000 tucked into the Sierra foothills about 250 miles northeast of San Francisco.

Reyes Carrillo, also 18, a classmate and former boyfriend of Jenny Carrigan, has been charged in the killings.

Jodie Carrigan hasn't talked much publicly about her loss, declining requests from The Associated Press for an interview.

"I'm still numb about everything that's brought us here," she told the hundreds of mourners who turned out for a memorial service in Chester this week for Jenny and Billy Carrigan.

Her most extensive comments have come in a local TV interview in which she asked herself the question on everyone's mind.

"There are times when I do think about it and it's like, How do you lose them both and how do you deal with it?" she said. "And I'm going, I don't know how to deal with it, but here I am and, you know, I'm still here. Why am I still here and not my kids?"

Jenny Carrigan and Furtado died of multiple stab wounds in a killing that authorities say took place sometime late Saturday or early Sunday.

It was prom night, but the teenagers had decided to stay in. Jodie Carrigan told the TV station she went to bed and last saw them watching TV.

"I never heard a thing, the dogs never barked. The neighbors never heard a thing," she said.

She found the bodies at about midday Sunday after getting a call from her daughter's co-workers at a local market wanting to know why the girl hadn't shown up for work. Neighbors saw Jodie Carrigan emerge from the house and collapse in the front yard.

Plumas County patrol commander Gerald Hendrick declined to say what led police to arrest Carrillo. The Chester High senior, who sometimes goes by the name Carrillo Garcia, has been charged with two counts of murder and one of burglary. The case has been charged with the special circumstance of multiple murder, which means prosecutors could seek the death penalty but Cunan said that decision hasn't been made yet.

Carrillo, due back in court June 4, has not entered a plea and the attorney assigned to him as a public defender did not return a telephone call to The AP.

Since the arrest, Johnson, the assistant principal, has searched his memories of the young man. He can't really think of anything negative. "With all my contact with him he was a nice kid," he said.

For many, the shock is still sinking in.

"It's really been hard," said friend Cheryl Darnell. "Those kids were her life."

Every year about this time, Chester High seniors decorate a rock that stands behind the school baseball field, writing their hopes and dreams for the future on the broad surface smoothed by generations of paint.

This year, it became an impromptu shrine to Jenny and Billy Carrigan, who graduated from the high school two years ago. Huddled at the base is a collection of flowers, stuffed teddy bears, a softball and pompoms — Jenny Carrigan was a cheerleader and starting pitcher on the Chester Volcanoes softball team, which made it into the playoffs this year.

Johnson, whose kids were friends with Billy and Jenny Carrigan, remembers Billy, 20, who most recently had been living in Berkeley, as "just a great kid. I remember him in Little League — great heart, good kid."

Jenny was "a top student, top-notch kid," said Johnson. She was on track to be in the top three of her class, was known for being impeccably dressed and was "unflappable."

Neighbor Maxey saw Jenny Carrigan at the market on the Saturday before Mother's Day. She was excited about the upcoming softball game and had gotten some good news about a scholarship. "She was just thrilled about going away to school," he said with a sad shake of the head.

The softball team ended up playing without Jenny. They lost, but Johnson was never prouder of them.

The tragedy also struck another small town, Willows, Furtado's home.

Hundreds turned out for the 18-year-old's funeral, with friends remembering him as an Eagle Scout, trumpet player and athlete.

A few days later, it was Chester's turn as hundreds filled bleachers and folding chairs set out on the sidelines of the Chester High football field.

Gray clouds hung low in the sky and a cool wind tossed the branches of pine trees bordering the field as speakers remembered the Carrigans with tears and laughter.

Two of Jenny Carrigan's band mates who had played a trio with her performed the piece, now a duet.

As the service ended, a tearful Jodie Carrigan thanked townspeople for their support.

"I just want to say, Billy and Jenny, I love you so much," she said. "You'll always be in my heart. Always."