A former local veterinarian allegedly shot her husband outside their Readfield home Wednesday, seriously wounding the 81-year-old man in what authorities described as the latest in a series of domestic disputes.

Sally Ann Earl-Costello, 61, shot her husband Hugh Costello outside their home at 318 Sturtevant Hill Road, according to Capt. Chris Cowan of the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office.

Hugh Costello was taken by ambulance to Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston. A representative in the hospital’s communications department didn’t have any information on Costello’s condition Thursday afternoon.

Earl-Costello was arrested and charged with elevated aggravated assault and was being held without bail at the Kennebec County jail in Augusta. Kennebec County Sheriff Ken Mason said at the scene Wednesday that Earl-Costello was cooperating with investigators.

It wasn’t immediately clear where Hugh Costello was shot on his body or what type of weapon was used. Mason said Thursday he was not comfortable releasing the information until Earl-Costello appears in court. However, the sheriff said he understood that Costello was shot as he was sitting outside on the deck at his home and that he was recovering from his injuries.

Mason said authorities, including the sheriff’s office and Maine State Police, had been to the residence — a two-story brown house set back from the road in a wooded area — numerous times for domestic disturbances. Deputies obtained and executed a search warrant on the property and have recovered a firearm believed to have been used during the incident.

Sally Ann Earl-Costello holds an active license as a veterinarian that is scheduled to expire Sept. 30, 2019, according to the state Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation website. It appears from there that she was first licensed in Maine in September 1999 and she attended veterinary school at the University of Georgia and served in the U.S. Coast Guard.

Charmaine Brown, a co-owner of Annabessacook Veterinary Clinic in Monmouth, confirmed that Earl-Costello was a former veterinarian at the clinic but hasn’t worked there “for years.”

Brown said she knew Sally Ann and Hugh Costello very well and the incident is a “sad and unfortunate thing.” She declined to make any other comment.

Records at the Capital Judicial Center describe one domestic violence arrest from earlier this year and some apparent mental health issues involving Earl-Costello.

For a while this winter, Earl-Costello lived in an unheated camper-trailer on Walker Road in Readfield, according to troopers who interviewed her there on Feb. 7 after her husband reported that she was suicidal, according to court records.

An affidavit by Cpl. Diane Vance of the state police says Earl-Costello called her husband and “told him that she wanted him to come and get the dogs and that she didn’t want to go on.” Earl-Costello told police they had been married for 35 years and that she was an insomniac and depressed, and on medication but not for depression. She also told the troopers she “feared she had some cognitive impairment.”

Vance’s affidavit and a separate one filed by Trooper Travis Luce indicated Earl-Costello’s behavior and mental state fluctuated when they talked to her and that she reported being fearful of her husband “because he was bigger, strong and not mentally altogether.”

When the investigators told her that Costello used a cane and “appeared somewhat feeble,” Earl-Costello told them it was to gain sympathy.

The officers noted that the camper was extremely cluttered and so was the Costello home.

She told troopers that she wanted Costello to stay elsewhere so she could go to the Sturtevant Road home — about two miles away — and be warm for the night. Costello agreed.

Troopers attempted to get Earl-Costello to agree to go to a hospital for an evaluation, but she declined, according to Luce. However, the woman agreed to be contacted by a Crisis and Counseling worker.

Earl-Costello had pleaded guilty to a domestic violence assault stemming from an incident Jan. 11, 2017, in Readfield. Hugh Costello is listed as the victim in that case.

She was placed on deferred disposition Feb. 2, prohibited from using alcohol and illegal drugs and ordered to undergo substance abuse and psychological evaluation and treatment if needed. A successful completion would mean she could withdraw the guilty plea and the charge would be dismissed.

However, the state moved to terminate that agreement 11 days later, saying there were indications she had violated it by drinking alcohol on Feb. 7. She told troopers at the time she had been drinking vodka.

Neighbor Richard Masse said he was surprised to read in the newspaper that police had responded to the address numerous times.

“It was news to me,” Masse said Thursday in front of his house at 329 Sturtevant Hill Road, across the road from the Costellos. “They’ve been in the community a while, but we haven’t seen them in probably years.”

Masse said he and his wife, Cathy, knew of the couple but didn’t socialize or mingle with them, and he didn’t know of any problems between them. He said he’d see Earl-Costello at the veterinarian’s office and would occasionally see Costello outside or driving.

“I guess you could say he was pretty reclusive,” Masse said. “I’d see him on the road, but he wouldn’t wave or acknowledge that he even knew you, but maybe he didn’t.”

Masse said police vehicles were still at the property at nightfall, but he didn’t know when the last vehicle left the scene. The Costello house is down a dirt driveway and is not easily seen from the road. There were several vehicles, including a van and at least one recreational vehicle, on the property.

Richard Masse said he and his wife have lived in their home since 1980 and aside from the occasional speeding vehicle, Sturtevant Hill Road is “pretty quiet and normal.”

“You wonder what could have happened,” he said. “If I knew them better I might be able to have a better idea, but it’s hard to speculate when you don’t really know them.”

Masse said he interacted with Earl-Costello when her dogs would come across the street into his yard when they used to have a dog. Masse said it was upsetting to have this kind of incident happen so close to their home.

“I mean, she shot him? Why would that have happened?” he asked himself. “You really just don’t know what to say. It just baffles me.”

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

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