By Rebecca Henely
Those who came through the snow to the Sacred Heart of Jesus Roman Catholic Church Monday morning for the funeral of longtime Bayside resident Elizabeth “Betty Ann” Devlin chose to remember not the grisly and sad circumstances behind her death but her life.
“She was a great, great woman,” said William Cronin, Devlin’s son-in-law.
Devlin, 79, died last Thursday from injuries she received after her son Matthew Devlin, 45, allegedly tried to murder her at their home at 215th Street and 38th Avenue in Bayside, police said. Matthew Devlin also allegedly attacked Betty Ann Devlin’s other son, John Devlin, police said.
The Queens district attorney’s office said Matthew Devlin admitted to getting into an argument with his mother and brother that evening, according to the criminal complaint.
John Devlin told police that on the first floor of the house Matthew allegedly beat him over the head with an aluminum baseball bat, causing a laceration that needed 35 staples, and then ran upstairs to get to Betty Ann Devlin, the complaint said. When police arrived, they found Betty Ann Devlin lying on the second floor with several lacerations to her head, the DA said. She was in critical condition and placed into a medically induced coma at North Shore Hospital, the DA said.
Betty Ann died at North Shore Hospital in Manhasset, L.I. last Thursday, police said.
Matthew Devlin was arraigned on charges of two counts of attempted murder, two counts of assault and one count of criminal possession of a weapon, the DA said. He is being held without bail, the DA said.
“It’s a difficult time for everyone,” said a friend of the family, who asked not to be named.
Frank Skala, a Bayside resident who knew her from the Bayside High School alumniï»¿ association, said he had heard Matthew Devlin had a history of mental instability.
“Apparently this was a long-standing thing,” Skala said.
Most, however, chose to remember Betty Ann Devlin’s personality. They described her as a warm, friendly woman with a distinctive laugh. They said she loved music and could sing and play the piano as well as the organ. She also loved to read.
“Her door was always open to everybody,” said another friend of the family, who asked not to be named.
John McIntyre, Betty Ann Devlin’s brother, said she was born in Brooklyn but had lived in Bayside since 1936. He described her as the family’s matriarch.
“I was very close to my sister,” McIntyre said. He added that even though he lives in California, he often came out to Bayside to visit her.
In his memorial for Betty Ann Devlin, the Rev. Thomas Brosnan compared the circumstances behind Betty Ann Devlin’s death to a child staring up at the bottom of her grandmother making a crochet.
“The grandmother, like God himself, is making the design from the right side,” Brosnan said. “We’re seeing things from this side of heaven, where they don’t make sense.”
Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4564.