WELLINGTON, Maine — George Lake has accepted that his son killed his estranged wife and two children Monday in Dexter. What he can’t accept are media reports and statements by District Attorney Christopher Almy that Steven Lake was an abusive husband or a bad father.

Just back from arranging his son’s funeral Wednesday afternoon, George Lake fumed as he and members of his family made a case to the Bangor Daily News that Steven Lake loved his children as much as any father could.

“Mr. Almy messed up,” he said, jabbing his finger at the front page of Wednesday’s Morning Sentinel newspaper and a story about Steven Lake murdering his family and shooting himself Monday in Dexter. “He indicted my boy for something that never occurred. A man’s wife can say anything she wants about him, but that doesn’t make it the truth.”

Police and prosecutors have maintained that on June 14, 2010, Steven Lake brandished a loaded pistol and held his family in a bedroom against their will. That’s a version of events consistent with separate interviews with Amy, Coty and Monica Lake, according to summaries of interviews with them, which Almy released to the media Tuesday. Lake was charged with criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon and domestic violence criminal threatening for that incident — charges he was due to face in Superior Court next month.

Despite his contention that he never pointed the gun at his wife, son and daughter, Steven Lake had accepted that he’d serve a prison sentence for his actions, said George Lake. What he couldn’t accept was being barred from seeing his children.

“He lost hope,” said Tylene Fowler, Steven’s sister.

“They broke him down,” said George Lake.

“I thought he was going to commit suicide,” said Veronica Fortier, who described herself as Steven’s girlfriend in recent months.

Steven had seen his children only three times in the course of almost a year — the most recent of which was months ago. The visits were supervised, which according to George Lake cost Steven hundreds of dollars. Then Amy Lake — who had custodial rights over the children according to Steven’s bail conditions — cut off contact and stopped allowing the visits, according to the family.

“He cried day after day after day,” said George Lake of his son. “All he kept saying was ‘I can’t live without my children.’ The bottom line is that if the prosecutors and court system had let Steven see his children, this never would have happened. I can’t imagine a man loving his children as much as Steven loved his.”

District Attorney Almy had sharp words of rebuke for George Lake.

“I understand he’s upset and he’s entitled to his say just like anybody else,” said Almy to the Bangor Daily News. “If this man, Steven Lake, was brought up by someone who’s going to blame the court system and me for the death that his son created, that tells us a lot about how Steven Lake’s values were shaped. What does this really tell us about the chemistry of the family Steven Lake was brought up in?”

George Lake said he wasn’t a perfect father — and not nearly the father Steven was. Steven Lake showered his children with gifts and attention, everything from four-wheelers to trips to Jamaica and Mexico, said George Lake. The Lakes spent time every summer at the family camp and according to several of Lake’s family members, they never saw him abuse or threaten his children or wife.

As for threats Steven made against his wife — such as that he’d kill her and then take revenge on members of her family or that he would do things to her with a knife that “you wouldn’t do to a farm animal,” according to Amy Lake’s statements to prosecutors — George Lake said his son had regrets.

“He told me he regretted some of the things he said to her,” said George, though he didn’t address Amy’s allegations specifically. “He said he was horsing around. He was like that. But he said Amy took it seriously.”

Steven Lake spent all day Sunday at his parents’ house. He made plans with Fortier for the next morning and chatted with a niece on Facebook late that night, just hours before Monday morning’s killings. No one noticed anything unusual about Steven on Sunday, but reflecting on it Wednesday they said there were clues that Steven had a horrible plan.

“Just the fact that he spent all day here with me,” said George Lake. “I think he knew.”

Fortier said she found Steven’s alarm set for 3 a.m., and that something he left neatly arranged on his kitchen table has haunted her since Monday: Three tickets to her daughter’s eighth-grade prom. Fortier said they probably hit a sore spot in Steven.

“He was so upset that he couldn’t go to Coty’s eighth-grade graduation,” said Fortier. “It must have been too much.”

Asked if Monday’s tragedy could have been avoided by giving Steven Lake visitation rights with his children, Almy says that’s preposterous.

“When Mr. Steven Lake did actually see his children on June 13, 2011, that visit was terminated with him shooting his own kids,” said Almy. “That should tell you a lot about what kind of love he had for them. He visited with his kids and he used that visit to kill them.”

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.