A man believed to have killed his wife and daughter then taken his own life was a doting father who would “go red if you swore in front of him”, a family friend has said.
Graeme Robson, 45, spoke after attending prayers in Oswestry, Shropshire, for the McFall family.
Susan McFall, 56, and 18-year-old daughter Francesca, known as Frankie, were found dead at their home in Hampton Road, Oswestry, on Friday morning.
The body of Hugh McFall, 48, was found a few hours later at an industrial lock-up he rented in nearby St Martins.
It is thought the flower salesman killed his wife and daughter before taking his own life in what West Mercia Police are calling a “family tragedy”.
Speaking outside the town’s Parish Church of St Oswald, where special prayers were held ahead of the usual service, Mr Robson dismissed rumours of financial problems that may have driven Mr McFall to kill his family.
He said he went out with Nicola Gillham, Mrs McFall’s daughter from a previous marriage, for around three years until they broke up two years ago.
He said: “I lost my mum and my dad moved to Spain so they basically became my family.
“I was close to Sue, Frankie and Hugh. They were like my family for the best part of three years.”
He said he had seen Frankie only last week when she had offered to buy him a drink last night to celebrate his birthday.
“She said, ‘I’ll see you on Saturday and buy you a drink’,” Mr Robson - who turned 45 on Sunday - said.
“I don’t relate any of what has happened to Hugh as a father.
“He doted on Frankie beyond belief, she was a very clever girl, a very pretty girl.
“He would do anything for her. I think that’s the hardest part.
“He was very close to Nicola his step-daughter as well. He was just a really, really genuine bloke.
“If you swore in front of him he would go red. Anybody walking out of that church today would be thinking why or how.”
Mr Robson said he had not spoken to any family members since the shocking deaths but said the rumours of financial problems did not “ring true” to him.
“Two years ago before I split up with Nicola, they had literally no mortgage on the house and were thinking of moving.
“They got the house valued and it was worth about £300,000, I think.
“The debt thing just doesn’t ring true with me. They never wanted for anything, they didn’t struggle.
“They were very, very family orientated, all the money he spent was in the house.
“In my mind it doesn’t make sense, he wasn’t over-exuberant. He always looked after them.”
Mr Robson said Mr and Mrs McFall seemed “really happy”.
Today’s service at the church saw numbers swell for the prayers in the wake of the tragedy, including some pupils from Oswestry School where Frankie was studying her A-levels.
They did not wish to comment, along with other visitors to the church who looked visibly upset.
Oswestry vicar the Reverend Simon Thorburn led prayers at the start of the service, reflecting on people’s unwillingness to show weakness and desire to portray themselves as successful.
The vicar’s comments followed his calls for people to share their problems more openly with friends and neighbours.
Speaking to the congregation he said: “Many of you by now will have seen either in the papers or on the television news pictures of the family, fairly recent pictures as well.
“A family apparently at ease and enjoying their life together.
“That this has come to such an abrupt and tragic end is a great sorrow, and the pain and confusion of the family closest to them of course must be equally great.
“It is much too early to know what impact this tragedy will have on all of us, the town as a whole.
“We must remember that both older and younger generations are shocked and bemused by what has happened and whatever the cause of this horrible event it brings home to all of us our fragility and our mortality.”
Mr Thorburn said people felt pressured to succeed, adding: “Feeling unworthy, even feeling failure is a common human experience and yet it seems that we are often under pressure only to appear successful.
“Perhaps it’s nearer the truth that beyond many of our front doors are people who know that there is a brokenness to their lives.
“And I am not using that phrase in the David Cameron sense but just simply a recognition of the fact that we all know that we have our weaknesses.
“But sadly it’s not something to own up to or even to recognise as a pretty normal state of affairs.
“In the wake of this tragedy as we remember the McFall family today let us pray that we can support one another better, recognise our frailty.”
He led the congregation in prayers for Mr and Mrs McFall and Frankie, as well as their close family including Mrs McFall’s sister, her children from her previous marriage, and Mr McFall’s mother and sisters.
He also prayed for members of Oswestry School, and people in the wider town itself.
A condolence book has been opened at the church.
Speaking after the service, Mr Thorburn said he was aware people connected to the McFall family had been at the service, but did not know if any direct family members were present.
The McFall’s family house in Hampton Road, Oswestry, remained cordoned off with a police guard outside.
Around the wrought iron gates lay an array of floral tributes to the family - many for Frankie - along with teddy bears, a heart-shaped balloon and some photographs.
One tribute read: “I have fond memories of being with you all whilst growing up. You may be gone but I won’t forget you. Rest in peace. Ffion & family. xxx”
Another referred to Frankie’s plans to travel to Nepal, saying: “Nepal can wait my beautiful friend.
“Sue, Hugh and Frankie you are such precious friends. Love Kathryn.xxx”
Another, clearly from a friend of the teenager, said: “We all have a massive hole left in our lives Frankie, which no one will be able to replace.”