WILTON — A financial adviser and conservative columnist who resigned from a state commission last year after his arrest on a domestic assault charge was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound Monday afternoon.

The man, Lawrence E. Dwight Jr., who was later cleared of the assault charge, was found by his wife, Adrienne Neary, in their Orchard Drive home about 1 p.m., Wilton police Chief Heidi Wilcox said Tuesday.

Neary told police she had been outside on the couple’s property before she discovered Dwight, 54, dead inside the home.

The state medical examiner’s office on Tuesday determined Dwight died from a gunshot wound to the chest and ruled the manner of death a suicide, according to Mark Belserene, spokesman for the office.

Police are still investigating the death, Wilcox said.

She asked two detectives from the Maine State Police’s Major Crimes division to assist with the investigation, but declined to say why she requested help from state officials.

Investigators said Dwight shot himself with a .45 caliber semi-automatic handgun, there were no signs of foul play, and no suicide note found at the scene, she said.

On Tuesday, John Frary, a friend of Dwight’s, said he didn’t appear distraught during a telephone conversation the morning of the suicide.

“I had spoken with him at most a couple hours earlier and he didn’t sound particularly distressed,” Frary said Tuesday. “From my information, it had been a normal day up until he had been found dead.”

Frary, of Farmington, is a monthly columnist for the Morning Sentinel. He and Dwight had been friends for about seven years.

Dwight ended the conversation with Frary by confirming his plans to take an upcoming trip to a family compound off the coast of Georgia.

Frary added that his friend’s demeanor just a short time before the suicide makes it make “even less sense to me now.”

Dwight leaves behind his wife and two children, a son and daughter, who Frary described as “first-class children.”

“I can’t imagine any man wanting to leave them behind,” he said.

Wilcox said the couple’s 20-year-old son lives with them and was not home at the time of the suicide.

Frary said Dwight enjoyed bird-watching and studying history and took stances on a variety of political issues, including as an outspoken opponent of wind powerd. Frary added he will miss the lengthy discussions they shared.

“I had the greatest respect for him and he had more respect for me than I feel I deserved,” he said.

Wilcox said investigators were unaware of the phone conversation between the friends the morning of Dwight’s death and would be contacting Frary.

Wilcox would not provide other details because the investigation is ongoing. The medical examiner’s office also would not discuss details because of the active police investigation, spokesman Belserene said.

The Franklin County District Attorney’s Office last summer dropped a domestic assault charge against Dwight after he was arrested by Wilton police in July. Wilcox said her department did not have any contact with Dwight before or since the charges were dropped.

The district attorney said there was insufficient evidence to pursue the charge.

Dwight previously served on the state Economic Forecasting Commission. He was known as J Dwight, and resigned from the commission at the request of Gov. Paul LePage, who asked him to step down following his arrest, according to Adrienne Bennett, the governor’s spokeswoman.

The governor’s office would not comment on Dwight’s death.

Dwight was also on the board of advisers for the Maine Heritage Policy Center, a conservative think tank. He was a columnist for the Sun Journal and The Maine Wire, writing about state and federal politics, wind power and other issues.

His wife did not return an email requesting comment Tuesday.

He was as an independent registered investment adviser and founder and president of Dwight Investment Counsel.

Dwight Investment Counsel manages 114 accounts totaling $59 million in assets, advising between 26 and 100 clients in the most recent fiscal year, according to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

David F. Robinson — 861-9287

[email protected]

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