STE-CHRISTINE, Que. -- Just last week, Patrick Desautels was sharing the joy of his son's fourth birthday at a family gathering with all three of his children in a local restaurant in rural Quebec.
On Tuesday, Desautels was back in the same eatery in Ste-Christine, but this time he was contemplating the tragic deaths of the three kids.
"I'd like to thank everyone who have banded together to help us -- myself and my family -- in this terrible ordeal," Desautels said as he read from a prepared statement. "The pain we are experiencing is inexplicable."
His comments lasted less than a minute and Desautels said he could say little more because of the ongoing police investigation.
The children were found dead on Sunday at their mother's home under what police are calling suspicious circumstances.
Police have not confirmed how LoÆc, two-year-old AnaÆs and five-year-old Laurlie died.
Josée Desgranges owns Resto Entre-Amy, the restaurant where Desautels, his new girlfriend and the three children congregated under joyous circumstances last Friday.
"Everybody was happy; they had poutines, the kids were very happy," Desgranges told The Canadian Press.
"The children came here very often so it's very sad."
A funeral will be held Saturday afternoon at St-André's Church in nearby Acton Vale.
"Everyone is standing shoulder to shoulder to help the family," Ste-Christine Mayor Huguette St-Pierre-Beaulac said.
"People can't understand how such a tragedy can come about."
St-Pierre-Beaulac said townspeople have formed a committee to help the Desautels family, which owns a tree nursery.
Residents are being encouraged to donate at the local bank or at various locations around town.
St-Pierre-Beaulac said the Desautels family is very involved in the community.
A few weeks ago, they opened up their grounds to hold a local Christmas fair where the entire community was invited. The family also distributes vegetable baskets in the community.
"Whenever they are needed, they are always there to lend a helping hand," St-Pierre-Beaulac said.
Provincial police said there was little more to report on Tuesday. Investigators were still waiting to meet with the children's 33-year-old mother, who was listed in stable condition in hospital.
Autopsies on the three young victims were completed on Tuesday, Sgt. Claude Denis said. But police did not reveal how the children died or where they were found exactly.
-- The Canadian Press