Thomas Bonfanti was ordered held without bail Wednesday when he made his first court appearance at Calais District Court for three counts of murder and one count of elevated aggravated assault. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik

The man accused in the Monday shooting deaths of three people at their homes in Machias and Jonesboro was ordered held without bail Wednesday when he made his first court appearance.

Thomas Bonfanti, 63, of Northfield is facing three counts of murder and one count of elevated aggravated assault for shooting a fourth person who survived. A hearing on whether bail should be set for Bonfanti, which might allow him to get out of jail while still facing the charges, has not been scheduled.

Bonfanti, wearing an orange jail jumpsuit and shackled at the ankles and waist, appeared Wednesday before Judge David Mitchell in a Calais courtroom. During the short proceeding, Bonfanti told the judge he understood the charges against him.

Bonfanti is accused of shooting and killing Shawn Currey, 57, of Machias; Samuel Powers, 33, of Jonesboro; and Jennifer Bryant-Flynn, 49, of Machias. Regina Long, 49, who was shot along with Currey at their home at 323 Kennebec Road in Machias, remained in critical condition Wednesday at Maine Medical Center in Portland, according to a hospital spokesman. Autopsies on the bodies of the three people who were killed were complete as of Wednesday afternoon, according to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner’s acting administrator, but results had not been released.

The shootings occurred late Monday morning. Bonfanti was taken into custody peacefully at the American Legion Post 9 in Machias about half an hour after police first were notified about the shootings.

At the request of Bonfanti’s defense attorney, Jeffrey Silverstein of Bangor, Mitchell ordered the Maine State Police affidavit on the killings sealed until the case is presented to a grand jury, which would happen at the earliest in March. The court document is expected to describe in detail the circumstances and sequence of the three shootings.

Silverstein and Assistant Attorney General Leanne Zainea, the prosecutor assigned to the case, each told Mitchell they do not object to waiting to schedule a bail hearing — also known as a Harnish hearing — for Bonfanti. In the meantime, Bonfanti will remain held at the Washington County Jail in Machias.

Outside the courthouse, Zainea declined to comment on or describe any details about the shootings.

“This case is in the very early stages,” the prosecutor said.

Silverstein said he spent a few minutes talking to Bonfanti in private.

“He was clearly easy to communicate with. He was oriented,” Silverstein said. “He didn’t appear to be suffering from any significant psychosis or mental health condition that would interfere with our ability to communicate. He appears to be in good health.”

Silverstein said he hasn’t talked to Bonfanti about what happened on Monday but that Bonfanti and the victims all were familiar with each other prior to Monday. Without going into details, he said there may be some “related circumstances” involving the American Legion in Machias, where Bonfanti is a member.

“I think there are more circumstances involving the Legion that may be relevant to this, although it’s difficult for me to assess,” Silverstein said. “Until I get access to more information, I’m not going to be able to unravel all that.”

Bonfanti is an Army veteran, having served “at the tail end” of the Vietnam War and overseas in Germany, Silverstein said.

Bonfanti has relatives outside Maine but has been living by himself at his home on Black Cow Meadow Road in Northfield, he said.

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Bill Trotter

A news reporter in coastal Maine for more than 20 years, Bill Trotter writes about how the Atlantic Ocean and the state's iconic coastline help to shape the lives of coastal Maine residents and visitors....