They stare at Tanicia Goodwin's picture on the TV and in newspapers, but don't recognize her.
This is a girl they helped raise, a member of their family.
Now, she is the 25-year-old Salem woman and Gloucester native who has been charged with slashing the throats of her two young children on Sunday night and dousing them and their apartment with lighter fluid before setting it ablaze.
"She looks like a mad woman," cousin Deborah Cox, 58, said in a telephone interview from her Dorchester home.
"She's not anybody I know. If you look at her eyes, they're empty. She looks totally delirious. Anybody who knows her knows that."
This is not the girl, woman and mother they knew.
"On her best day, she was a very loving mother, full of love for the children, and she came from a loving family," said Cox, a paraprofessional in the Boston public schools.
"I feel she had a support network she just chose not to turn to. ... We're all trying to wrap our heads around this and try to understand what demons possessed her to do this horrendous thing.
"None of us really know, none of us can figure it out. We just know we hurt for the babies first, we hurt for her, and we hurt for the families displaced because of the fire.
"We don't want to see her in jail, not because we dismiss the criminal stuff she did, but because she really is sick. This demonstrates how critically sick she is, and jail is not going to heal her."
Cox was at home yesterday with her brother, Wayne, 62, a retired accountant who drove up from Atlanta after hearing the tragic news.
Wayne Cox has been an anchor in the family.