Family of 5 found dead in Maine
By DAVID SHARP
SACO, Maine (AP) - A suicidal man having financial problems killed his wife, three children and then himself over the weekend, police said Monday.
Detectives said 33-year-old Joel Smith shot his family inside their apartment about 11:30 p.m. Saturday with a 12-gauge shotgun.
Twelve-year-old Jason Montez and 7-year-old Noah Montez were shot to death in their separate bedrooms. Thirty-five-year-old Heather Smith and 4-year-old Lily Smith were shot in the parents' bed. Joel Smith's body was found on the floor nearby, the gun by his side.
Police said no suicide note was found, but investigators said the wife had told a family friend the night of the shooting that Joel Smith recently had threatened suicide. The friend later contacted an apartment complex worker to express concerns about the family's well-being, leading to the grisly discovery, investigators said.
The family had domestic issues and financial problems, said Sgt. Christopher Harriman, a state police detective.
The family had moved from Arizona because of the sour economy, said Joel Smith's mother, Jerys Caruthers-Thorpe, of Scottsdale, Arizona. Heather Smith also was getting help for substance abuse, Caruthers-Thorpe said.
"I know something had to have snapped because Joel never would have done that in his right mind," she told The Associated Press.
Neighbors described the father as well known in the apartment complex along the Saco River because he worked for a company that provided maintenance services. They said he was friendly and outgoing.
Smith, who was a carpenter and builder, decided to follow his father to Maine in hopes of escaping the tough economy out West, Caruthers-Thorpe said.
Only recently, she said, her son had realized his wife was suffering from addiction, and they'd talked about moving back to Phoenix.
"They were having problems, serious problems," she said. "They were in the process of trying to get some help."
Many people who knew the family described Smith as friendly and outgoing, an assessment shared by his mother. "He was very talented, and artistic, and a perfectionist, and a very devoted family man," she said.