Family dead in Maine in apparent murder-suicide

A neighbor said the mother in a family found dead in Saco, Maine, had a drinking problem and may also have been doing drugs.
By Frances Burns  |  July 28, 2014 at 2:04 PM
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SACO, Maine, July 28 (UPI) -- Investigators say one of the parents in a Maine family shot the couple's three children and the other adult before committing suicide.

The bodies of the family were discovered Sunday when a relative asked a maintenance worker at their apartment complex in Saco to check on them, police said. Neighbors identified them to the Portland Press-Herald as Joel and Heather Smith, Jason Montez, 12, Noah Smith, 7, and Lilly Smith, 4.

"The bodies of the two boys were found in their separate bedrooms, and the two adults and their daughter were in the parent's bedroom. A shotgun was also found in the parents' room," Maine Department of Public Safety spokesman Steve McCausland said in a statement Monday.

Aaron Petrin, who shared an outdoor walkway with the Smith family, said they made dinner on a barbecue outside and seemed normal with no arguing. The family went inside around 8:30 p.m. or 9 p.m., and Petrin said a short time later he heard noises he thought were firecrackers being set off in the parking lot.

Smith worked as a maintenance man at the complex. Heather Lemmers, another neighbor, said he pulled her son out of the Saco River last year.

"I'm just sideways about this," Lemmers said. "I don't know who to be mad at."

Petrin said Heather Smith had developed a substance abuse problem.

"She just recently started drinking heavily, recently maybe got into drugs," he told the Press-Herald. "At first she was kind of the weekend warrior, partying on weekends. Then it kind of rolled over into weekdays."

Neighbors said the family moved to Saco from Arizona a few years ago. Saco, a few miles down the coast from Portland, is an industrial city of about 18,000 that also draws tourists in the summer.

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