WALDOBORO — Norman Benner had told his mother he wanted to break up with Arline Lawless, his girlfriend of four months, before a shooting last weekend that killed him and left her wounded.

The couple were the only people involved in the shooting, Department of Public Safety spokesman Steve McCausland said Tuesday, but he wouldn’t say whether Benner, 34, or Lawless, 25 — or both — fired shots.

McCausland said Lawless was treated for a gunshot wound on her face at Maine Medical Center in Portland, where she was in fair condition Tuesday.

Dawn Benner said she and her daughter found her son’s dead body and Lawless, who looked pale and wounded, on Monday morning in the bedroom of the house on Friendship Road, or Route 220, where Lawless had been living since May and where her son often slept.

She said her son lived with her and his father, whose name is also Norman Benner, in their house on the Friendship side of Route 220, called Waldoboro Road.

Dawn Benner said she dropped her son off at Lawless’s house on Saturday afternoon, and he said he would be calling in an hour for a ride back to his parents’ house. She never heard from him that night, and he didn’t return his parents’ calls on Sunday or Monday.


She and her daughter went to Lawless’s house Monday morning to check on him. She said they asked Lawless’s roommate where her son was, and he said he had tried to wake him up but couldn’t.

Police have said the house is owned by Jeremy McPhee, who also lived there. State police Sgt. Jeff Love said Tuesday that McPhee was home at the time of the shooting.

Police said they believe the shooting happened during the weekend, but won’t be more specific. They said they need to continue investigating the circumstances before releasing any more information.

Love said police have had limited communication with Lawless. McCausland said they were waiting for her condition to improve before speaking with her again.

Police roped off the house with crime scene tape Tuesday while they searched inside. Outside, a recliner sat overturned on the overgrown lawn, and a black pickup truck was parked by the side of the building.

Leanne Young, an employee at Flipper’s Market, down Route 220 toward Friendship, said Benner was a frequent customer. He would often come in with his father and sometimes with Lawless, though it wasn’t apparent to Young whether they were dating or just friends.


“He was always very polite when he was in here,” said Young.

Bubba Thompson, a friend of the Benners, said the younger Norman Benner — known as Normie — was a hardworking fisherman.

Benner’s parents said he started working as a clam-digger even before he graduated from Medomak Valley High School in 1996, and also worked as a sternman on lobster boats.

They said he loved to eat the fruits of his labor.

“He couldn’t get enough of them,” Norman Benner said of his son’s love of clams.

He had hauled lobsters Saturday morning, cooked them and brought them to Lawless’s house that afternoon, his mother said.

The Benners said their son got along with everyone, and was particularly good with children, including Lawless’s 8-year-old son.

“He was just too nice,” Dawn Benner said.


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