STATEWIDE – Maine saw fewer homicides in 2019 than the year before, and the percentage related to domestic violence also decreased for the second year in a row.
“As of New Year’s Eve we were standing at 22 homicides that either State Police, Portland or Bangor police investigated during the year,” said Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety. “Nine of those were domestic violence.”
He says that’s one fewer than 2018, and a decline in domestic violence fueled homicides.
The year 2019 started out with a double homicide on New Year’s Day in South Paris.
Mark Penley, 50, of Peru told investigators he shot and killed Heather Bickford and Dana Hill, both 31, so “no one else could have her.”
Two weeks later in Clifton, police say, Dwight Osgood Jr., 38, used a 12-gauge shotgun to shoot his longtime girlfriend, Kary Dill, 35, after a night of drinking and doing drugs.
For years, more than half of the annual homicides involved domestic violence.
“In the last couple of years, there has been a slightly hopeful sign that those numbers of domestic violence homicides have actually dropped,” McCausland said. “Don’t know if it’s a trend yet, but maybe a hopeful sign.”
In February, Sarah Richards, 37, of South Thomaston was charged with bludgeoning 83-year-old Helen Carver to death at her Owls Head home. She had been hired to shovel the driveway.
March saw six homicides, two that were murder-suicides.
One of those was a distraught father who took his own life after shooting and killing his 14-month-old son during a standoff in Presque Isle.
In mid-March, police say, a love triangle turned deadly in Swanville when Austin McDevitt, 22, shot Shane Sauer seven times after a scuffle over a shared love interest.
In July, an argument in the Auburn Walmart parking lot led to charges against Gage Dalphonse, 21, in the shooting death of Jean Fournier, 41, of Turner.
Two men in Castle Hill died by gunshots in August and two months later, Bobby Nightingale, 38, of Presque Isle was charged with their murders.
In October authorities say, longtime boyfriend Nicholas Lovejoy, 28, shot and killed the mother of his twin daughters in Waterville. The body of Melissa Sousa, 29, was found in the couple’s basement.
In November, Maine saw another murder-suicide in Augusta, and the death of a Bangor man who lived on Essex Street.
In December, Joseph “JJ” Johnson, 30, of Old Town, and Cote Choneska, 39, of Veazie each were charged with murder in the Bangor death of Berton Conley, 59.
“These are 22 tragedies that affect Maine deeply,” McCausland said.