Lives of murder-suicide victims celebrated - East Valley Tribune: News

Lives of murder-suicide victims celebrated

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Posted: Wednesday, September 23, 2009 10:51 pm | Updated: 2:45 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

On a night to celebrate the lives of brothers Ryan and Nick Mullaly, ninth-grader Sierra Pellettieri said attending the memorial service was one of the hardest things she ever had to do.

Shock, mourning follow Mesa slayings

Mother and children dead in murder, suicide

On a night to celebrate the lives of brothers Ryan and Nick Mullaly, ninth-grader Sierra Pellettieri said attending the memorial service was one of the hardest things she ever had to do.

A standing-room-only crowd was in attendance inside the auditorium at Rhodes Junior High in Mesa, where hundreds of students and parents remembered Nick and Ryan, as their friends spoke and a fellow band member of Nick's played a moving original song on piano in honor of him.

In an apparent double murder-suicide, Nick, 12, and Ryan, 15, who attended Rhodes Junior High, were shot and killed by their mother, Susan Mullaly, in their Dobson Ranch home late Saturday before she turned the gun on herself. The boys' father, Philip Mullaly, found them all dead when he returned home from work.

Police said a suicide note was left by the mother, but the investigation into the tragedy is ongoing and they have not released it.

Those leaving the memorial said Phillip Mullaly was "strong" as he spoke about his sons and thanked the community for showing love to them.

"He talked about how his sons inspired people and how they rarely made bad choices, and how much he loved his boys," Pellettieri said.

"It was very emotional," said Pellettieri, who gave Philip Mullaly a large picture she drew over the last two days of a cross adorned in roses with the brothers' names written in silver.

"It was probably the hardest thing I've ever done. It's not easy, but it was the right thing to do. It makes me want to go home and grab my sisters and mom and tell them I love them because you never know when somebody is going to go. I would talk to Ryan about grades and swimming. Now, I'll never get to hear him complain about getting a 97 percent on a test again," she said.

Nick Mullaly was described as the quiet brother with a great sense of humor. He was said to be a smart kid who liked to read and played the euphonium, a smaller tubalike instrument, for the seventh-grade band. Classmate Tristen Sulley said Nick wanted to start a jazz band.

Ryan, who recently celebrated his 15th birthday with a surprise party hosted by a number of his friends, was a member of the school's ambassador program, escorting new students around the school. A straight-A student, Ryan also swam on the Dobson High School swim team and was the No. 1 singles tennis player on his school's team.

When Dobson's swim team competes in its first meet at the newly completed pool at Rhodes on Thursday - a pool Ryan got to swim in for the first time on his birthday - his lane will remain open as a memorial to him.

The service was held on the fourth anniversary of another tragedy at Rhodes. On Sept. 23, 2005, Sean Casey, 14, was struck and killed by a motorist as he was crossing the street in a crosswalk after football practice

As students left the service crying and hugging each other Wednesday, a parent leaving the service, who said her daughter and son were friends with Nick and Ryan, also said Philip Mullaly was upbeat and read a poem, "Persevering," by Ryan during the service.

An excerpt of the poem is inside a framed picture of him at the memorial of candles, flowers and pictures of the brothers in front of the family's house in the 2500 block of South Pennington Street. "Nothing can stop me. I will persevere and show the world that rests on my shoulders that I can carry its weight five times over. Take that world, I say aloud. I greet this day with a smug grin, knowing today is the day I will find my inner me. Nothing can stop me," it reads.

"The service was not about death, it was about life," the parent said. She did not want to give her name.

An inspirational message on the sign in front of the College View Baptist Church across the street from the school could've served as a reminder to those leaving the service. It said, "Be a Fountain, not a drain."

"We all know what happened, and we're not trying to make it worse," Pellettieri said. "Ryan and Nick would not want us moping around."

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