Raymond Lester, who was arrested late Monday in Cancun, Mexico, was seen driving fast and drinking vodka at a retreat in Acadia National Park in the hours before Nicole Mokeme, his girlfriend, was found dead at the site, according to a federal affidavit.

Lester, 35, was charged with murder in Mokeme’s death late in June. State police allege that Lester struck and killed Mokeme with his BMW SUV during the retreat she had organized. The state affidavit, filed in Hancock County, remains sealed from the public.

Nicole Mokeme was the founder of Rise and Shine Youth Retreat in Bowdoin. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

Lester now also faces federal charges, for flight to avoid prosecution.

Maine State Police and local law enforcement officials found Mokeme early on the morning of June 19 after one witness placed a 911 call around 6:20 a.m., the affidavit states. State police Detective Dana Austin observed Mokeme “laying on a paved walking path with obvious trauma visible on her lower back and her leg area,” according to the federal affidavit. Austin also observed several pieces of black plastic around the body, and tire tracks leading from a parking lot to the trail where Mokeme was found. 

The federal affidavit, written by Deputy U.S. Marshal Jesse Belanger, cites details from the state affidavit, which includes the observations of numerous witnesses who were with Mokeme and Lester that week.

Several witnesses – unnamed but identified as attendees of Mokeme’s retreat – told investigators that Lester was drunk the night before Mokeme was found dead. He was driving “dangerously fast” around the campgrounds, in a “newer-style” black SUV while playing loud music and drinking.


Lester told one witness something to the effect of Mokeme “doesn’t like me anymore.”

At a group dinner around the fire pit that evening, witnesses observed that Lester “had behaved appallingly,” he was “hammered,” “seemed pissed off” and “was driving fast in the area with a bottle of vodka.”

They watched him drive over the basketball court and nearly hit one attendee’s car while pulling up to the bunkhouse where retreat-goers had been staying. At one point, they observed the driver making “shooting” gestures toward the group with his fingers, but it was too dark to see whether Lester was the person in the car.

They watched the driver speed off and return to the area several times, “driving at high speeds and erratically.”

A couple of witnesses said they addressed Lester while he was driving. One person who tried talking to him told investigators that Lester “appeared drunk, with slow, slurred speech.”

At one point in the evening, a witness noticed Mokeme texting “with a worried look on her face.” Making a call, she walked away from the fire pit around 10:30 p.m., after it was believed that Lester had left for the evening. Attendees told investigators that Mokeme and Lester were sharing a room at the retreat.


Lester had told some retreat attendees that he had to leave the next day for work, delivering items in the Portland area. But the people police talked to expected him to return, the affidavit states.

On June 20, after securing a search warrant for the room where Mokeme and Lester were staying, police found personal items of Lester’s, including clothing and toiletries, and did not get the sense that he had come to pack up.

Nicole Mokeme and Raymond Lester Facebook photo

State police soon learned that Lester had had previous run-ins with police. Detective Austin confirmed the SUV had been registered in his name on May 31. Police checked for Lester and the SUV at his South Portland residence on June 20, but didn’t find them there.

They learned that the SUV had been spotted in Holden, going east on Route 1A, around 12:55 a.m. on June 19, hours after the dinner at the fire pit. Around 3:50 p.m. that day, after police found Mokeme, the vehicle was spotted in Canton, Massachusetts.

Authorities then tracked Lester’s cellphone, using carrier data, to Warwick, Rhode Island, the next day. Police in Georgia and Texas later tracked the SUV in their states, using license plate readers.

Since announcing Mokeme’s death and the search for Lester last month, Maine State Police have remained mum on details of what they believe happened and the work that has gone into locating Lester.

Lester’s criminal record shows a history of domestic violence starting in 2008, when he was charged by Portland police with domestic violence assault. He pleaded guilty, paid a $300 fine and was sentenced to 22 days in jail, according to a statewide criminal history report.

Two women who dated Lester more than 10 years ago detailed a history of abuse in interviews with the Portland Press Herald last month.

Mokeme and Lester had been dating for about three years.

Mokeme, 35, was the creative director of the Rise and Shine Youth Retreat, which offers wellness retreats and other programs for Black youths and adults. She was one of the organizers of the Black Excellence Retreat 2022 at the Schoodic Institute in Winter Harbor, where she was killed.

The retreat was the second held in collaboration with the institute and was described as “a getaway for Black folks and their friends and families of all backgrounds to join together in community to celebrate Juneteenth, liberation and Black excellence,” according to a post on the retreat’s Instagram.

It was supposed to last from June 14 to 20 and was designed to give Black youth and adults a laid-back time for deep rest, outdoor exploration and art.

Mokeme also was involved in the Black Artist Forum, Embodied Equity Consulting, The Ensemble of Color (formerly, Theater Ensemble of Color), The For Us By Us Fund, The Third Place, Hi Tiger, Portland Empowered, Women United Around the World and 21st Century, according to a GoFundme page created by friends for her 11-year-old daughter.

As of Wednesday, that page had raised more than $71,000.

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