Crime scene tape is wrapped around a tree near a cluster of mobile homes extending from Main Street in Fairfield on Thursday. Maine State Police are investigating the death of a man whose body was found inside one of the mobile homes on Tuesday. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

The mass shootings in Lewiston made October Maine’s deadliest month ever. But even as the state has begun to move past the initial shock of the massacre, a surge of unrelated homicides and other deaths has left police stretched thin and marked November as one of the most violent months in Maine history.

At least seven people were the victims of homicides in November and state police are currently investigating two more deaths in Fairfield and St. Albans, Department of Public Safety spokesperson Shannon Moss said.

Though the official tally will not be available until state police release the annual homicide list at the end of the year, preliminary data culled from public announcements shows last month’s homicide count matches the second highest monthly count in Maine since at least 2012, behind only October 2023.

State investigators also have been involved in several other cases in recent days, including a non-fatal shooting in Saco on Tuesday morning, a triple fatality crash on the Maine Turnpike on Wednesday night, and two people who were found dead in tent fires in Portland and Sanford last weekend. Moss said the heavy caseloads have been taxing the department and the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.

“Homicide investigations are extremely challenging, dynamic and labor-intensive cases which go far beyond the initial response. These investigations involve traditional police work, advanced technological components, crime scene processing, considerable understanding of the legal process, suspect apprehension, all before the tedious process and long hours of putting the case together for the prosecutor,” Moss said Thursday.

“We are buried under a mountain of work.”



Police have released few details about the recent string of deaths, including that of Clarence Pearson, 61, who they say was found in a Westbrook apartment shortly after police received a call for help at 1:38 a.m. on Tuesday. The medical examiner conducted an autopsy on Wednesday and determined that Pearson’s death was a homicide. Officials have not yet released a cause of death or made any arrests.

Christina Hill, who lives in Westbrook, said she met Pearson 12 years ago through her brother. She didn’t understand why anyone would want to hurt him.

“He was kind, caring, loved his family and kept to himself,” she said in a phone interview on Thursday. “I’m just shocked”

Hill said Pearson was always there for her family when they needed help. When she and her kids were homeless, he took them in for more than two months until they could get on their feet, she said. When they moved into an apartment, he let her stop by twice a week to do her kids’ laundry because she didn’t have laundry in her building.

“I would always try to give him money to thank him,” she said. “He never let me. He was always a person you could call if you needed someone to listen to you or a place to stay.”


Hill said Pearson was addicted to alcohol and drugs and she fears that substance use was related to his slaying. She said he was also recently struggling with depression and memory loss and was frustrated about his rising rent.

Police also did not provide new information Thursday about a suspected murder-suicide in Searsmont, a small town west of Belfast in Waldo County. According to information provided Tuesday by the Maine State Police, investigators believe Lance Lucas, 50, shot and killed Amy Nickerson, also 50, and then took his own life earlier this week. Police said the pair had been domestic partners but had recently broken up. Autopsies confirmed that both died from gunshot wounds.

Nickerson is a mother of two and worked at her family’s businesses, Anglers Restaurant in Newport and Searsport. She developed close relationships with the staff and customers, according to her obituary. Both locations will be closed Friday to allow staff to honor her memory, her family said.

A public candlelight vigil for Nickerson was scheduled for Thursday evening outside of the Anglers Restaurant in Newport. Her funeral is scheduled for Friday afternoon in Belfast. A GoFundMe to benefit Nickerson’s children had raised more than $10,000 as of Thursday evening.

The other deaths discovered in the past week include:

Harvey Elderkin, 57, was found dead in St. Albans on Nov. 22.


Ahmed Sharif, 27, was killed on Nov. 24 in Biddeford. Police have charged Lorenze Labonte, 25, with murder in his death.

Michael Willett, 69, and Aremean Mayo, 93, were found dead in Denmark on Saturday. Tzara G. Jones, 53, was charged with two counts of murder the next afternoon.

• Another man, who has not been publicly identified, died in a tent fire Saturday morning in Sanford.

A 31-year-old man, whose name has not been released, died in a separate tent fire early Sunday alongside Interstate 295 in Portland.

• Another man, who has yet to be publicly identified, was found dead in Fairfield on Tuesday afternoon. Investigators have not released the cause or manner of his death.



Though final data is not yet available, the recent spate of deaths has poised Maine to shatter its record number of homicides this year. Based on an examination of unofficial releases put out by Maine State Police and the Portland and Bangor police departments, the three agencies that have the authority to lead homicide investigations in Maine, some 50 people have been killed in homicides through the first 11 months of the year, significantly more than the previously reported record of 40 victims set in 1989.

While a large portion of the spike is tied to the Lewiston shootings, which left 18 Mainers dead, the preliminary data suggests the homicide rate would have continued to rise this year even without the massacre. Maine saw an average of about 22 homicides each year between 2012 and 2021, and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data has consistently shown that it is one of the safest states in the country – despite weak gun laws that experts say are generally linked to higher rates of violent crime. But that figure jumped to 28 homicides in 2022, the most since 2008, according to the state’s annual crime report.

It remains unclear what, if any factors, are driving the recent wave of homicides and other deaths. Greg Marley, senior clinical director of suicide prevention at the National Alliance of Mental Illness Maine, said the “suicide contagion” effect, where one high-profile suicide can increase the likelihood of others in the area, is well-documented in medical literature, but there is less research on whether a mass shooting event can spark other crimes.

In the weeks since the Lewiston shooting, at least three people who have been put under weapons restrictions orders through Maine’s yellow flag law have specifically cited Robert Card while making threats to shoot or kill others, according to documents shared by the Office of the Maine Attorney General.

Marley said he couldn’t speak to whether the recent deaths have any connection to the Lewiston shootings or to the recent switch from daylight savings time, which some research has linked to elevated rates of car crashes and certain crimes. But he said the shootings were still “in the air” – another stressor on a population already rife with mental health problems as well as the under-resourced system designed to offer treatment.

“All the elements that drive that type of violence have been increasing, and the supports that would help to settle it have not been as readily accessible,” he said. “The system is all gummed up. It’s harder to get help.”


Many Mainers, like other Americans, saw their mental health deteriorate during the pandemic, just when many mental health professionals specializing in crisis were leaving the industry due to burnout or retirement, he said. That’s made it harder for people in crisis to get help – and by the time they do get into the mental health system, they’re often entering in worse condition than people used to.

He said that anyone who is struggling with their mental health or is worried about a friend or loved one should reach out to resources like the Maine Crisis Line.

“Bang on the door, tap on the window to get them help as early as you can,” he said. “Call early, call often so that it doesn’t get to that boil over point.”

Staff Writers Lana Cohen and Gillian Graham contributed to this report.

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