Who was Sonia Loja? Connecticut mom, 36, hangs herself after strangling her 3 children to death
DANBURY, CONNECTICUT: A mother and three children who appeared to have died in a triple murder-suicide, were discovered dead in Danbury, Connecticut, by police. Sonia Loja is the mom of the three children. The children all appear to have died by strangulation, and the mother’s suspected cause of death is asphyxia by hanging. Her three kids were Junior Panjon, 12, Joselyn Panjon, 10, and Jonael Panjon, 5.
Loja ran a daycare center out of the home where the horrific crime took place. The tragic incident took place on Wednesday, July 27, when Loja called parents and told them not to drop their children off. "Yesterday morning, just before 10, a guy came to drop off his kid and she came to the door and said, 'No, sorry, I can’t watch him today,'" Loja’s Danbury neighbor Elvis Español told The New York Post on Thursday. "She explained that she’d called all the rest of them, all the rest of the parents of the kids she watches, and she couldn’t get a hold of one, to tell them not to come that day."
Loja’s brother-in-law, who apparently lives in the house, left shortly after but “didn’t see anything weird,” added Espinal. “He just went to work and he said he didn’t even know anything was wrong until he got a call from his brother”. On Wednesday evening, police officers arrived at the scene on Whaley Street and they found the dead bodies of the three children in the house, and the 36-year-old mother's in a shed in the backyard. Loja’s husband, who works in landscaping and had left early in the morning, called 911 to request a wellness check late in the day because he had been calling his wife and hadn’t heard from her, according to the neighbor. “He called the cops and asked them to do a wellness check and then he came here and he beat the cops here so he went inside and like a couple minutes later he came out and he called 911 and just fainted to the ground,” he said.
According to The Daily Mail, Detective Captain Mark Williams said in a statement, "We can now confirm the identities of the deceased as Sonia Loja, 36, Junior Panjon, 12, Joselyn Panjon, 10, and Jonael Panjon, 5. Ms. Loja is the mother of the three children, and they all resided at 10 Whaley Street. The children all appear to have died by strangulation, and the mother's suspected cause of death is asphyxia by hanging. Pending an official autopsy, preliminary findings indicate that Ms. Loja strangled her three children before killing herself. However, this is still an active investigation. Investigators had learned that the mother and children lived at the residence with two other adults, who were not present when the police arrived. They and other extended family members have been contacted and advised of the incident. The Mayor's Office and the City's Police, Fire, Health, Education, Emergency Management, and Health Departments, along with Nuvance Health have coordinated efforts to provide services to the family and friends of the deceased. As this is also an emotionally damaging incident for first responders, services have been extended to public safety personnel who responded to the scene. An autopsy of the deceased is scheduled for this morning at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Farmington, CT. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of the victims."
Loja was cited twice for the illegal daycare center in June, the state Office of Early Childhood said. She had been cited on June 2 after an anonymous tip, but a followup visit four days later found children again at the home, according to the office. She claimed they were relatives but the agency came back on June 29 and found the illegal daycare still operating. A 'Demand to Cease' was issued during that visit, spokesperson Maggie Adair said. A visit a day later found no children in Loja’s care, Adair said.
The children’s father, Pedro Panjon, shared a heartbreaking post on social media Wednesday night, showing a black ribbon with a Spanish phrase that translates to “Rest in peace, now you are in a better place with God.” He also posted several heartbreaking photos showing Loja and the children in happier times. One showed the mother holding Jonael in her arms above a birthday cake with a lit No. 1 candle as the other children look on.
Espinal choked up as he recalled 5-year-old Jonael, “the nicest little guy,” who would wave as he rode his bicycle. “I’ve had a knot in my stomach ever since I found out what happened,” he said. “I still have no appetite. I’m not in shock, it’s more than shock, it’s like horror or like devastation. I can’t stop seeing the little boy’s face.” He never saw “anything strange” with the family, who seemed like normal people, Espinal said. “And the kids she watched, they would always be outside playing, like all day,” he added. “She has a swing set in the back and she never yelled! Never really even raised her voice. Not even like, you know, getting them to come in, or anything like that. She was quiet.” A neighbor whose house backs up to Loja’s yard said the family had lived there there for four or five years. “I’d always get their mail because we’re both number 10. So yeah, we’d say ‘hi’ and wave but they kept to themselves,” he said. “They had parties on the weekends, picnics. Just family. They kept the yard nice, they built that shed.”
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).