SKOWHEGAN, Maine — The bodies of an elderly couple were discovered in a home on 27 Alder St. after what a Maine State Police spokesman called an apparent murder-suicide.  

Department of Public Safety spokesman Stephen McCausland said the victims were Barbour Flewellen, 86, and his 75-year-old wife, Marie Flewellen, who were found in their bed in a second-floor bedroom by Skowhegan police. McCausland said in a press release that evidence indicates that Barbour Flewellen called 911 to report “two mercy killings” at 10:41 a.m. He then apparently shot his wife with a .22-caliber revolver before turning the gun on himself. There was no indication a third person was involved in the shooting.  

Skowhegan police who responded to the call had to force their way into the home. No suicide note was located.

Officials from the state medical examiner’s office removed two bodies from the home at about 3 p.m. Tuesday. Several officers from the Maine State Police and Skowhegan Police Department, as well as a mobile command center for the State Police Evidence Response Team, were at the scene through most of the day.

According to next-door neighbors Bill and Laura Shellmer, the Flewellens were a pleasant but frail couple who didn’t leave their house very often. The Shellmers, who spend part of the year in Florida, had just returned over the weekend to their home, which is next door to the Flewellens. On Monday night, they returned from a nearby gymnasium to find a card in their door from Marie Flewellen, thanking them for allowing the Flewellens to use a parking space over the winter.

“They called the car ‘Miss Daisy,’” said Laura Shellmer. “We just saw them yesterday. I went over to give [Marie Flewellen] a hug and she told me, ‘Don’t come near because I’m still sick. We’ve had the flu all winter.’”

Shellmer said the Flewellens were on their way to pick up dinner at McDonald’s on Monday evening. The Shellmers and Flewellens had developed a neighborly friendship last summer. Marie Flewellen was an artist who loved nature scenes and had remarked that her home on the shore of the Kennebec River was the perfect place to paint.

Despite that, Bill Shellmer said it was his impression that the Flewellens “were not very happy to be here,” in part because of their inability to sell another home they owned in Virginia.

“If this was a suicide, I hate to think of them having to do that,” said Shellmer. Laura Shellmer said she wishes she could have done something to prevent the tragedy.

“If I had sensed something, I could have tried to cheer them up,” said Marie Shellmer. “This is a terrible shock.”

Neither the Shellmers nor another neighbor, Tricia Smith, said they heard any gunshots. Smith, who has lived on Alder Street for only a couple of months, said she didn’t know the elderly couple well but had heard from neighbors that they were pleasant and kind.

“It’s just a shame,” said Smith. “What a thing to happen.”

On Tuesday afternoon, officers from the State Police Evidence Response Team could be seen at the home, the driveway to which had been blocked with crime scene tape.

Margaret Greenwald, Maine’s chief medical examiner, was scheduled to examine the bodies on Wednesday, according to McCausland.

Christopher Cousins

Christopher Cousins has worked as a journalist in Maine for more than 15 years and covered state government for numerous media organizations before joining the Bangor Daily News in 2009.