Police are investigating the deaths of a young couple found Friday morning in Manchester as a suspicious case.

Eric Williams, 35, and Bonnie Royer, 26, who lived together on Easy Street in Augusta, less than a mile away, were found dead early Christmas morning in a sport-utility vehicle parked in Manchester near the Augusta city line, according to state police spokesman Steven McCausland.

One of the victims had called 911 about 3:30 a.m., drawing police to the scene. According to the Somerset County dispatch log, a complaint about shots being fired at about the same location in Manchester was made at 3:34 a.m.

In a news conference at the scene, Lt. Jeffrey Love, from the state police major crimes unit, said the man later identified as Williams was in the driver’s seat and the woman later identified as Royer was in the passenger seat. Love would not say who made the 911 call, but he said both were dead when authorities arrived.

“It’s too early to draw any conclusions,” Love said. “We have called it a suspicious death at this point, but we need to gather more information.”

He did not say whether police were looking for any suspects.

Maine State Police, along with the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office and the Augusta Police Department, were conducting the investigation, and Love expected it to continue throughout the day.

The Maine-registered red SUV was found parked a short distance off Sanford Road, a dirt road, and state police detectives were investigating the circumstances of the deaths.

McCausland said the bodies were taken to the medical examiner’s office for autopsies expected to take place Saturday and the SUV was to be taken to the state police crime laboratory. Police had blocked off Sanford Road and a section of nearby Mount Vernon Road. The sheriff’s office and Taylor Slemmer, from the chief medical examiner’s office, were also at the scene, which is wooded and remote.

Paula Fike, who lives nearby, said near the scene Friday that she heard sirens after waking up about 4 a.m. Heidi Wheeler, who lives nearby on Summerhaven Road, said she also heard sirens and said there are lots of children living in the area. Wheeler said she was shocked that two bodies had been found down the road from her house.

Police said the SUV was found at the entrance of a gravel pit, a few hundred yards beyond the intersection with Mount Vernon Road. The road becomes Summerhaven Road, which stretches from Manchester into Augusta and is popular with bicyclists and all-terrain vehicle riders.

Jason Pafundi — 621-5663

[email protected]

Twitter: @JasonPafundiKJ

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