State police continue to follow up on a domestic violence case Saturday in Norridgewock, in which William Hale shot and killed his wife, Marie Lancaster-Hale, in their U.S. Route 2 home, and then turned the gun on himself.

While it is clear what happened, police do not have a definitive answer about what led to the killing, according to Steve McCausland, spokesman for the state Department of Public Safety.

“There was no note left behind, other than some instructions for his mother’s care, so there was not much of a written trail that was going through his mind,” McCausland said Monday in a phone interview.

Mark Belserene, administrator for the state Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, said in an email Monday that the cause of Lancaster-Hale’s death was a gunshot wound to the head.

“The manner is homicide,” he said. “The cause of death for William Hale: shotgun wound to the head, the manner is suicide.”

State police have not determined yet why William Hale shot his wife Marie and then himself last Saturday at their home in Norridgewock. Staff photo by David Leaming

Hale called the Somerset County Sheriff’s Office at 7:17 a.m. Saturday and said there would be two bodies at his house on Skowhegan Road, also known as U.S. Route 2, McCausland said at the time. Hale also reported an elderly woman at the home would need care.

When authorities arrived, Hale’s mother, Faye Hale, who lived at the house, was found sitting unharmed in a vehicle in the driveway, McCausland said. William Hale apparently helped his mother into the vehicle and then returned to the house, where he shot his wife, his dog and himself. Faye Hale was taken to a hospital for medical evaluation. McCausland said he did not know where she was as of Monday.

A handgun and a shotgun were recovered from inside the home Saturday, and the bodies were taken to the state medical examiner’s office in Augusta.

Friends of Marie Lancaster-Hale said Monday that she was a kind, caring woman who always put others above herself and did not deserve to die so young.

“There was nothing she wasn’t volunteering for,” said Judy Smith, of Anson.

Smith, who was grieving the loss, said she met Lancaster-Smith in 1988 when they both worked in the paper industry, and they became fast friends. Lancaster-Hale worked at Sappi for about 20 years and Madison Paper Industries about 10 years, according to Smith.

“She loved working with people, and anything she could do for somebody, she always put that first. That was Marie. She was always there to do for you. Marie could be exhausted from a 12-hour shift and go home and shower and change up and put on the most amazing Mrs. Claus outfit and go to the Children’s Home.”

Lancaster-Hale put 100 percent into anything she did, Smith said.

Marie Lancaster-Hale and Judy Smith. Photo courtesy of Judy Smith

“She could sew, she could cook, she was a crafter, a carpenter, a logger, an activist for women, she was part of a union — she was into everything. She put the rest of us to shame.”

Smith said she wanted to say something about Lancaster-Hale publicly for the many friends and family members who felt the same way about her.

“So many women contacted me and said she needs a voice,” Smith said. “She cared about people and she always put everybody before her. She had a heart on her sleeve, and when it came to the elderly or disabled, she was their voice.”

Smith said she did not want to discuss what she thought might have led to Saturday’s killing of her friend, but she said Lancaster-Hale and her husband, William, were both talented.

“They had their own workshop in the cellar of their home — hers and his,” Smith said. “She did carpentry work. She did crafts. She had a chain saw and worked in the wood yard at Sappi.”

Smith recalled a time when she had to have surgery, and Lancaster-Hale dropped everything to drive her to the hospital.

“Then I found out after I woke up, she had so many other things she had to do that day that she put on hold.”

Lancaster-Hale was also a character and could be funny, according to Smith. She loved to shop and spend time with friends.

“Marie loved life. She loved living life. She would never, ever want to be gone this way.”

She said she also was an inspiration to others.

“She was a good egg. She really, really was. I knew her soul and I knew her heart and that was Marie, really; her heart and the love she got from giving.”

A neighbor of the couple, Harrison York, said Saturday that he never imagined William Hale would shoot his wife and then himself. But York said Hale seemed to have a lot on his mind of late, including the recent death of his father, his mother’s illness and frailty and the fact that his beloved dog was old, could barely walk and needed to be put down.

York said Hale asked York’s girlfriend, Barbara Jean Hiscock, to spend time with Hale’s mother, Faye Hale.

Hiscock and Faye Hale hit it off right away as they discovered they both were from Rumford, according to Hiscock, who said she enjoyed visiting her and talking about their hometown.

For the last few months, Lancaster-Hale had worked as a paid bus driver for Kennebec Valley Community Action Program, driving mostly in the Augusta area.

Employees at the Waterville-based program learned of her death late Saturday and were shaken by the news, according to Jim Wood, transportation development director for KVCAP.

Wood said Monday that she left a good impression with everyone, and her co-workers were shocked and saddened to learn of her death.

“It’s been kind of a rough day,” he said.

Lancaster-Hale had a good sense of humor, was focused on safety and did a good job, according to Wood.

“We’re certainly going to miss her,” he said.

The 24-hour Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence helpline is 866-834-4357; the 24-hour helpline for The Family Violence Project is 877-890-7788 or 623-3569.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17

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