Since police charged 17-year-old Andrew Balcer with the murder of his parents Monday, those who loved Alice and Antonio Balcer of Winthrop have expressed shock and sadness.

The couple, both 47, met while serving together in the Coast Guard. They got married and eventually had two boys and bought a home on quiet Pine Knoll Road in Winthrop 16 years ago.

“It is a complete tragedy to know something like this could have happened,” said Antonio’s mother, Christine Doval of Fairbanks, Alaska, on Wednesday. “It’s very difficult. They were a wonderful family. They were good people.”

Antonio Balcer

Antonio Balcer

The Balcers lived in a white-ranch style house in a quiet, wooded neighborhood that runs parallel to Route 202. Police were called there shortly before 2 a.m. Monday and found them dead. Andrew Balcer has a brother in his 20s, and both were at home when police arrived.

After calling the deaths “highly suspicious” on Monday morning, police later said they charged a teenage boy with two counts of murder. Andrew Balcer’s defense attorney, Walter McKee, confirmed that Andrew Balcer, a Winthrop High School senior, was charged with killing his parents.

On Tuesday afternoon, Balcer made his first court appearance at the Capital Judicial Center. During that appearance, a judge ordered the probable cause affidavit containing details of the investigation – including how the couple might have been killed – be sealed.

A judge also ordered that Andrew Balcer undergo a psychological evaluation. The prosecution has requested a hearing to allow Balcer, who turns 18 next month, to be tried as an adult on two counts of knowing or intentional murder.

The news shocked many in the Winthrop area. Andrew Balcer was close with his family, according to several residents.

“He always seemed like a normal, happy kid,” said Doval, his grandmother, who visited her son’s family every couple of summers. “There was nothing that would have led anyone to think this could happen.”

Doval described her son, Antonio, as “a wonderful person” and “a pillar in his community” and her daughter-in-law, Alice, as someone “with a great love for animals.”

Antonio Balcer belonged to the Exiles Motorcycle Club, and was a devout Christian whose nickname was “Rev.”

Antonio was “a great father, the kind of guy you could always turn to,” Dustin Nadeau, an Exiles member, said Monday. Alice Balcer “was a huge-hearted person … one of the best people you could know,” he said.

In recent years, Alice Balcer, who went by Ali, helped stray and domestic animals at the Winthrop Veterinary Hospital and Kennebec Valley Humane Society, which on Tuesday posted a remembrance on its Facebook page.

“Yesterday we lost a valued and beloved former staff member, volunteer, committee member, friend, and tireless advocate to animals in our community,” the organization wrote. “Ali spent more than a decade working with animals and inspired those around her to always do their absolute best. She was a mentor and friend to our staff and volunteers. Her passion, dedication, and laugh will be sincerely missed.”

The Balcer family owned several animals that were removed from their home this week as part of the murder investigation, but it was unclear where they are being housed.

Another person who shared his sympathies with the Balcer family was Steve Lindsey, a veteran of the Coast Guard who served alongside Antonio Balcer on two ice breakers in the late 1980s. Lindsey learned of the killings from an online news story this week, then wrote a remembrance in the comments section.

Reached by phone Wednesday, Lindsey, who is 56 and lives in Keene, New Hampshire, said he hadn’t spoken with Balcer in more than 25 years. But he remembered him as someone who seemed at odds with the culture of the uniformed service, yet still managed to be a leader while serving.

“He was a rock,” Lindsey said. “He was unflappable. I wasn’t close with him, but I admired him.”