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Woman who killed family spoke of illness; Neighbor says she didn't offer details

The next-door neighbor of a woman who police say used a shotgun to kill her 10-year-old daughter, her disabled father and herself said Thursday the woman recently confided in him that she was suffering from a "very debilitating" illness.

Penelope Luddy, who lived in a Rochester suburb, didn't elaborate on what was wrong when she ran into her neighbor, Tony Henderson, at a grocery store a few weeks ago, Henderson said.

"She was worried, but she didn't give me the impression it was going to be life-threatening," said the 63-year-old retired college residence-hall manager. "I just felt she was having a problem that hopefully through medicine could get cured."

Authorities say Luddy, 53, persuaded her husband, Michael, to go visit a sick relative at around 8:30 a.m. Wednesday. When he returned just over an hour later, he found his wife dead and their daughter, Alexandra, and his father-in-law, Harold Bertram, 79, gravely wounded in the basement of their Perinton home on a quiet cul-de-sac.

Bertram, who was physically disabled and had lived in the finished basement for years, managed to tell sheriff's deputies what had happened just before he died. He and the girl, who was pronounced dead at a hospital, had each been shot twice with a 12-gauge shotgun.

Luddy had been "extremely distraught" for the past few weeks and may have been undergoing treatment, the Monroe County Sheriff Patrick O'Flynn said. He declined to elaborate except to say that "the family had been concerned."

Henderson described Luddy as a cheerful, outgoing and generous neighbor who brought over flowers when his family moved in nearly two years ago. Luddy called her only child "a miracle baby" who was born after Luddy suffered several miscarriages, said Henderson's wife, Melinda.

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