Lights illuminate part of High Street in Machias and an adjacent yard as Maine State Police detectives examine the scene where a dead person was found in November 2021. Credit: Bill Trotter / BDN

Three people were indicted Wednesday on murder charges by a Washington County grand jury.

Darren Laney Jr., 36, was indicted on a murder charge for allegedly stabbing his father, Darren Laney Sr., to death at a cabin in Big Lake Township on March 10.

Kailee Brackett and Donnell Dana Jr., both 38 years old, were indicted on murder charges for the alleged killing of Kimberly Neptune, 43, whose body was found inside her Thunder Road home in Perry on April 21.

Details surrounding the alleged killings, including suspected motives, have not been released by police. The court affidavits in each homicide, which likely contain such information, have been impounded and are not available to the public.

The deaths of Laney Sr. and Neptune are among a recent burst of violence in Washington County that has resulted in six deaths in the past six months. Much of the increase in violence in the county has been blamed on a rise in illegal drug use that has been fueled by an influx of dealers from out of state, though not all of the killings appear to be directly connected to drugs.

Brandin Guerrero, a suspected drug dealer from New York was gunned down on a street in Machias on Nov. 4 in what police say was a planned attack by a rival drug gang from Massachusetts. Five people have been charged with murder in his Guerrero’s death.

The day after Christmas, Danielle Wheeler allegedly shot and killed Jason Aubuchon, her ex-boyfriend, at her house in Perry. Wheeler, who police say had previously been accused of physically abusing Aubuchon, told police they had been arguing over drugs, according to court documents.

On Jan. 8, Paul DeForest allegedly fatally shot girlfriend Eva Cox at her home in Lubec. DeForest, 66, was arrested in Virginia three days later after a friend who had been staying in Lubec with DeForest and Cox reported the shooting to police, according to a police affidavit.

Police have said another woman, Paula Johnson of Pembroke, had been killed when her body was found at her Leighton Point Road home on February 9. No arrests or charges have been made so far in connection with Johnson’s death.

Overall, 10 people have been killed in Washington County in the past two and a half years, including three people who were shot at separate locations in Machias and Jonesboro on Feb. 3, 2020.

In that case, Thomas Bonfanti, 65, of Northfield, is expected to go on trial next week in Belfast for the alleged murders of Jennifer Bryant Flynn, 49, of Machias; Samuel Powers, 33, of Jonesboro; and Shawn Currey, 57, of Machias.

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....