Lori Hayden will always be Ambrose “Tom” McCarthy’s little girl.

McCarthy, 73, helped raise Hayden and her sister, Trisha, with their mother, Darla Pickett, starting in the late 1960s after their biological father was killed in a traffic accident.

Lori was 3 and Trisha was 18 months old when they moved in together, he said.

“We lived together for 20 years,” McCarthy said Friday from the offices of his company, Central Maine Wreath and McCarthy Enterprises, on North Avenue in Skowhegan. “They were my girls — Lori was my girl. There was no doubt in anybody’s mind that she was known as Tom’s girl; we had that close a relationship.”

Authorities said Lori Hayden, 53, of Russell Road in Madison, was shot and killed at her home Wednesday morning by her partner, Carroll Tuttle Jr.

Tuttle Jr., 51, also shot and killed their son, Dustin Tuttle, 26, and a neighbor, Mike Spaulding, 57, before he was shot and killed by police in a reported hail of gunfire outside his home. In all, four people died. A fifth person, Harvey Austin, 57, also was shot by Tuttle Jr.

The Office of Chief Medical Examiner was scheduled to perform autopsies on the victims Thursday and on Tuttle Jr. on Friday. The office did not immediately return a message Friday seeking results of those autopsies.

As for Carroll Tuttle Jr., the man who killed his own wife and son, McCarthy said he didn’t have much good to say about him. McCarthy would not discuss details of the shootings.

“I knew him,” he said. “I had no use for him. To me, he was abusive, and I had no use for abusive people in my life. I’ve seen the results of it.”

Austin, who is married to Lori’s sister, Trisha, is recovering after surgery to treat multiple gunshot wounds.

Neighbors and a family member said jealousy and domestic abuse fueled the shootings.

McCarthy said he also would baby-sit Harvey Austin when they lived in Norridgewock and Austin was 5 years old.

“We were neighbors. Harvey was my mother’s little pet,” he said. “Harvey could do no wrong by my mother.”

McCarthy bought a farm in 1974 on Hilton Hill in Skowhegan, where the girls grew up and where McCarthy still lives.

“I tried to be a dad to them; I hope I was,” he said. “I bought her her first truck. I bought Trisha her first car and taught her to change the brakes on it. And their horses and their four-wheelers and their snowmobiles, pickup trucks and mini-bikes. They’re still mine; it’s just that I have only one left.”

McCarthy said the girls worked at his business, which included a bottle redemption center, from the time they were 12 or 13 years old and continued in his employment into the early 1990s. They both graduated from Skowhegan Area High School. He said they remained close, like a family, until Wednesday, the last day of Hayden’s life.

“I’d never see her when I didn’t get a big hug from her,” he said. “I miss her.”

McCarthy described Hayden as a kind woman with a big heart.

“She was a soft-hearted, deep-thinking, very, very kind person,” he said. “They were very hard workers, very bright girls, both of them. Their mother was a hard worker. I tried to be a hard worker and that instilled it in them, and they were hard workers.”

Hayden was the daughter of Skowhegan Selectwoman Darla Pickett, also a former Morning Sentinel reporter, and was the sister of Skowhegan’s finance and human resources director, Trisha Austin.

McCarthy said he will be at the funerals and has continued to be in contact with Pickett and Trisha Austin.

“You hold on to the ones you got,” he said of losing someone who was as close as any family member. “You can only hold on to what you have. You can’t hold on to what you lose. You can be thankful that you were part of their life.”

McCarthy said Hayden was “easy to be around,” dependable, honest and loyal. He said the sisters were close.

Hayden’s son, Dustin Tuttle, was a “good kid,” he said. He said he didn’t have a lot of contact with Dustin but remembers him as someone with a big smile who had his mother’s work ethic.

“She raised him right,” he said.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter:@Doug_Harlow

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