Doting mother Karen 'Kaz' McClean cried out in anguish and terror as her son Ken Flanagan stabbed her to death on Friday night before murdering his girlfriend and taking his own life.
Neighbours heard the mum-of-two call out, "I'm dying, I'm dying... it's my son," as the drug addict attacked her at an address on the Rathcoole estate in Newtownabbey.
The crazed killer left his mother as she lay dying and travelled to a nearby family-owned property on Glenville Road, where he stabbed his girlfriend Stacey Knell to death before taking his own life.
Stacey, in her 30s and from east Belfast, leaves behind a young daughter. Last night, friends told of their anguish over her death.
Loving mum Karen recently posted a message on Facebook praising her son over his battle with drug addiction, writing: "My handsome son, love you unconditionally. If you only realised your self-worth. You're better than any of them."
She also wished him a happy birthday on April 26 last year, posting: "Let's pray for a better future. Love you, son." She added she loved her two children "more than life". It is understood Ken Flanagan had previously been ordered to stay away from his mum's house by authorities over his violent behaviour.
In a Facebook post in March last year, Karen Flanagan spoke of her pride in her son as he fought substance abuse. She wrote: "So proud of my beautiful son (for) staying clean. I've finally got him back. I pray he continues to beat his disease.
"Anybody who judges him or any addict, or calls them junkies, especially when they've took drugs, is hypocritical.
"Walk a mile in my shoes as a loving devoted mother. Addicts are so vulnerable. They still need loved. I love you, son. Stay strong."
Neighbours at both addresses yesterday spoke of their shock and horror at the killings.
One neighbour, who did not wish to be named, said: "It's crazy. That house on Glenville Road has had a bit of a reputation as a party house and there was a fire there a while back (when) Ken was asleep inside. There was a car on fire outside as well. The community is in shock. This is a quiet area where people look out for each other. You never expect anything like this to happen on your doorstep.
"I'm still in shock. It's so awful I just can't believe it. As a parent, it's your worst nightmare.
"I would have seen Stacey around here with her wee pup sometimes. It's just so sad. It's really horrific, but there has always been trouble at that wee house. Generally, it's really quiet around here, apart from that place. It's awful... terrible, absolutely dreadful."
Sydenham-based Stacey formerly attended Ashfield Girls' School in east Belfast and also has links to Bangor and Holywood.
She is survived by a nine-year-old daughter. Karen Flanagan is also survived by a school-aged daughter.
Shocked friends of Stacey paid tribute to her on social media yesterday.
Belfast woman Melissa Morrison wrote she "couldn't believe" the news about her lifelong friend. She added: "I've known you my whole life. It doesn't seem real. You're only one month younger than me. How can this happen?
"I'm in complete shock. Rest in peace, beautiful. May God give your whole family strength to get through this."
Jordan Gallagher, another lifelong pal of Stacey, added: "There's a big dark cloud over east Belfast today. A young life taken far too soon. One of my lifelong friends. We fought like cat and dog but never fell out.
"You were always the pocket rocket of the group and not a bit of you had changed. You were still the exact same as you were years ago.
"A wee child left with no mummy. You were the best wee mummy. Rest easy up there, beautiful girl. I will always remember you. My heart's broke."
The double murder-suicide has left the Newtownabbey community reeling, with political representatives saying the incident highlighted the scourge of violence against women.
North Belfast MP John Finucane said people had been left "absolutely shocked and stunned" by the news.
He added: "My first thoughts are with the family and friends of the women who were brutally killed last night.
"It's important to bear in mind that at the heart of this tragedy are grieving families.
"These brutal killings highlight once again the need to oppose all violence against women and the need for a violence against women and girls strategy in the north."
Antrim and Newtownabbey mayor Jim Montgomery echoed Mr Finucane's sentiments. He posted on Twitter: "A very sad incident that has created such shock with so many. My thoughts are with families involved, who are suffering such loss, and those having to pick up the pieces after this tragedy."
Deputy mayor and SDLP councillor Noreen McClelland added: "My thoughts and prayers are with the friends and family of the two women who were brutally killed last night.
"Once again it appears that two women have lost their lives in a violent attack. How many more women have to die before our Executive takes action to address gender-based violence?"
North Belfast DUP MLA Paula Bradley said it was "extremely sad news" to hear of the deaths.
"It brings that reality home again to us in Northern Ireland that violence against women and girls cannot be tolerated," she added.
Ulster Unionist leader Steve Aiken also spoke of his shock, saying: "This is terrible news. The loss of three lives is an awful tragedy for the community."
Alliance Policing Board member John Blair said it was "the most sad and shocking set of circumstances." He added: "My thoughts are with family and friends of victims in what they are going through right now."
He said there was "a great sense of shock throughout the Newtownabbey community."
Officers were alerted shortly before 11pm on Friday night following a report of a stabbing at Derrycoole Way in Rathcoole, where Karen Flanagan was found dead.
A short time later, police discovered Ken Flanagan and Stacey Knell dead at a property on Glenville Road just under two miles away.
Detective Chief Inspector John Caldwell said police and crews from the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS) had responded to an emergency call shortly before 11pm on Friday night.
He added: "Just after 10.55pm on Friday evening, police received a report of a stabbing at a residential property in the Derrycoole Way area. Officers attended, along with colleagues from the NIAS. Sadly, a woman was pronounced dead.
"As officers carried out further inquiries, they attended a residential property in the Glenville Road area. An unconscious male was located in the property. Despite the provision of first aid, the male was pronounced dead. On searching the property, another deceased female was located.
"While we have launched a murder investigation, we are not looking for anyone else in connection with these incidents, which we believe are connected.
"We would urge anyone with any information which may assist our investigation to contact 101, quoting reference number 2441 of 19/03/21."