OAKLAND — Almost two months after a murder-suicide left four people dead and orphaned a 3-year-old girl, detectives still haven’t released details in the case, and they say a clear motive for the sudden violence might never emerge.

The mother of the two women shot to death Nov. 4 said the family, too, still has no answers and never saw any sign they should fear the shooter, Herman DeRico.

“I guess we were all fooled by this madman,” Jackie Bragg said Wednesday in an email.

“We will never have any answers, nor will we ever understand why,” she said. “But the tears are real and the heartache is forever there.”

Bragg’s daughters, Amy DeRosby and Amanda Bragg, were shot to death Nov. 4 by DeRico, along with Amanda Bragg’s boyfriend, Michael Muzerolle.

The killings came without warning and blindsided the family and the community.

In her first public statements about the shooting, Bragg said DeRico was trusted by her daughters and Muzerolle.

“They let him come in their house and be part of their family,” Bragg said. “He was never disrespectful to anyone, and Amy even told us she found her husband. She was the happiest I had seen her in 20 years. She was ready to start her family.”

Bragg said she wishes DeRico simply had taken his own life. “He didn’t have to take my babies with him,” she said.

“He has taken so much from so many in just this one act. Our families have lost so much and our hearts are all forever broken.”

QUIET HOMEBODIES

On the evening of Nov. 4, residents of a Belgrade Road neighborhood heard gunshots, then sirens, as police and emergency vehicles converged on the three-apartment house at 41 Belgrade Road.

Police found the body of DeRico, 42, in the driveway, dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, a 9 mm pistol nearby.

In the downstairs apartment, first responders found the bodies of Bragg, 30, Muzerolle, 29, and DeRosby, 28, all dead from gunshot wounds. Police also found Muzerolle and Bragg’s 3-year-old daughter, Arianna, alive. Police believe DeRico shot the three adults, then shot and killed himself in the driveway.

The four adults lived in the same apartment building. DeRosby and DeRico lived upstairs, while Bragg and Muzerolle lived in the downstairs apartment with their daughter.

DeRosby and Bragg grew up in Vassalboro and attended Winslow High School. Muzerolle was an Oakland local and attended Messalonskee High. He was the nephew of police Chief Mike Tracy.

DeRico wasn’t from Maine, and neighbors who met him thought he had moved into the state recently. He went by the name Khalil, and neighbors didn’t know his real first name until after the murders.

Police believe his mother lived in California and his grandmother lived in Alabama. A memorial ceremony for him was held in Selma, Alabama, but little other information is available.

Bragg said some people believe drugs were involved in the killings, but they “have to realize it was not the case.”

Those who lived in the neighborhood remembered the two couples as quiet people who mainly kept to themselves.

Police never had been called to the house because of disturbances, and the adults hadn’t had any serious prior run-ins with law enforcement. DeRico was fined $350 in late August for an Aug. 8 possession of up to an ounce and a quarter of marijuana in Waterville, but that was it.

Bragg said her two daughters were different from one another; Amy was friendly and outgoing, while Amanda was more reserved and had a tougher time trusting people. The two sisters had their ups and downs but loved one another.

Amanda was apprehensive and excited when her sister moved upstairs. The arrangement worked out, and Arianna would go back and forth between the two apartments, she said.

Amanda Bragg and Muzerolle were quiet homebodies and their lives were “all about Arianna,” Bragg said. They were planning to have more children, she added.

Arianna stayed with Jackie Bragg after the shooting but is now living with her other daughter, Bragg and DeRosby’s older sister. She felt the four grandsons she has staying with her already were too much for the girl, who is an only child.

“She is thriving and doing very well, happy as ever and loved more than you know,” Bragg said.

NO NEW INFORMATION

The Maine State Police say they continue to investigate the case, but so far they have not released any new information.

In a post on its Facebook page last week, the state police said work on the case continues “although an exact motive for the violence may never be determined.”

In an interview a week after the shooting, Maine Department of Public Safety spokesman Stephen McCausland noted the difficulty in establishing a motive. “The key people that could help tell us that were all victims of the homicide last week,” McCausland said at the time.

Hundreds of people turned out for a candlelight vigil that was held on the weekend after the shootings and there have been fundraisers for Arianna, but public response to the tragedy has been subdued.

Memorials for Muzerolle, Bragg and DeRosby were held in mid-November.

The fatal shooting shocked people in the normally quiet, tight-knit community, and the murders made statewide headlines as news crews descended on Oakland.

In an interview last week, Oakland police Capt. Rick Stubbert was hard-pressed to come up with something to say about the tragedy.

“The healing process is still going on,” he said.

At the two-story brown home with an attached barn, there is no indication the residence was the scene of such a horrific event.

Jason Thomas, who lives in the house next door, was one of the people who called 911 the night of the shooting, and he spoke to Bragg on the phone moments before she died.

He often thinks about that night and admits it feels strange to look at the scene of the crime every time he steps out his back door.

He has text messages from his friend Muzerolle on his phone that he sometimes thinks about when he makes a call.

After the shooting, he thought about what had happened and wondered whether he could have done more to stop it.

“Maybe if I had run over when I was on the phone, maybe I could have helped them,” Thomas said.

“You always think about what you could have done in that situation.”

Peter McGuire — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @PeteL_McGuire

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.