The Domepi sisters had always been close. Identical triplets, their birth had rocked their tiny Maine hometown. From a young age, they were trotted out at everything from banquets to bank openings, much to the distaste of their extended (and patrician) family but much to the delight of their parents.

When “triplet fever” eventually cooled around the time the sisters graduated from Noahton High, the three sisters–Diane (Di), Sarah (Sally), and Augusta (Gussie)–turned down their grandfather’s offer of legacy admission to the University of Maine in Orono. The Humecroft side of the family had never approved of the triplets’ father Giuseppe Domepi, but when he abandoned the family shortly after the girls’ 16th birthdays they were brought back into the fold and were the beneficiaries of multiple legacies from older family members.

With a comfortable standard of living assured, and no desire to be separated, the triplets soon became reclusive, associating only with family members and servants. The few visitors they entertained were reportedly unsettled by the sisters’ apparent ability to communicate wordlessly and their propensity to talk rapidly among one another using a personal language of gutteral sounds and sighs.

By 1985, the 70-year-old triplets had run through their trust money and dismissed their servants. Still living in the ancestral Humecroft manor that their grandfather had willed them, they were reduced to drawing water from the town well, growing vegetables in a small plot, and subsisting on donations from the few aged family members and family friends they had left.