Vigil held for Middletown woman, child killed in murder-suicide

MIDDLETOWN, Pa. (WHTM) - A vigil held Wednesday night in Middletown honored the lives of a 7-year-old boy and his mother, killed in a double murder-suicide one week ago.

Police said Marvin Cadell shot and killed his son and his estranged wife, Nightflower Staats, at their South Union Street apartment before killing himself.

Dauphin County Coroner Graham Hetrick said when the bodies were in the apartment for several days before they were found Saturday. He believes the shootings happened three days earlier, on January 3.

One week later, more than a hundred people showed up to a vigil held in front of the victims' apartment.

"The little boy was lively and sweet and energetic, and we all just really fell in love with the little boy. We're all just shocked," said Paige Pavlishin, who went to church with Cadell and his son.

She said at Wednesday's vigil that she knew Cadell as a caring father, a church man who loved his son. He was someone she believed wasn't capable of such horror.

"They were very faithful on Sunday mornings at our worship service and we all worshipped with them on Christmas Eve," said Pavlishin.

Vigil attendees left dozens of stuffed animals, toys and balloons on the apartment building's front steps. Food, drinks and fellowship were also on hand, as crowds huddled against a bitter winter night.

One woman who worked with Staats said she loved being with her son.

"She enjoyed taking him to the park and just doing things with him, he was the apple of her eye," said Leeann Evans. "She was always polite, always had a smile, always said good morning when she came in - did her job, never let on that anything was wrong."

Other friends of Nightflower said the marriage was rocky, and that recently, she'd been staying in a hotel, and was trying to leave Cadell.

Eddie McCrary is a family friend and a mentor who spent time with them over the holidays.

"When you really care about somebody, a tragedy like this really puts a hole in your heart," he said. "One thing I know is that he was a loving and caring human being and so was the family, especially the little kid, Joe, full of life."

Police said the killings were the result of a domestic incident. There is a 24-hour domestic violence hotline that you can call for help for either yourself or another person: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).

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