Raymond Lester stands next to a BMW X3 in this undated photo. Police say Lester, 35, of Portland is suspected of driving a BMW X3 in the hit-and-run death of Nicole Mokeme on June 19, 2022, in Acadia National Park. Police are looking nationwide for Lester, who has been charged with murder, and for the vehicle. Credit: Courtesy of the Maine Departm

An affidavit filed in federal court says that a Portland man charged with murder in a hit-and-run death of a South Portland woman was drinking vodka, playing loud music and driving fast around the Schoodic campus in Acadia National Park before he allegedly ran over his girlfriend on a walking path.

Raymond Lester, 35, was sharing a room with Nicole Mokeme, 35, at a retreat that Mokeme was leading at the Schoodic Education and Research Center, one attendee told police. On the evening of June 18, attendees were hanging out at a fire pit outside the bunkhouse where they were staying while Lester sat nearby in his SUV, according to a police affidavit filed in court.

“Though it was dark and they could not see who the driver was beyond the fact that he was male, they observed the driver making ‘shooting’ gestures with his fingers toward the group,” according to the affidavit.

Other witnesses — none of whom saw Mokeme get run over — said it was Lester who was at the wheel in the vehicle, a black BMW X3.

One witness told police that Lester said Mokeme “doesn’t like me anymore.” Another said that when the group had dinner on June 18, that Raymond “behaved appallingly,” was “hammered” from over-drinking, “seemed pissed off, and was driving fast in the area with a bottle of vodka.”

Mokeme’s body was found at 6:20 a.m. June 19 on a paved walking path on the Schoodic campus, according to the affidavit. Police found tire tracks leading from a nearby parking lot, across a road and between two trees onto the walking path where Mokeme was found.

Pieces of black plastic that appeared to have fallen off a vehicle also were found around Mokeme’s body, according to the affidavit.

Police began looking for Lester and his SUV. Electronic license plate readers detected the vehicle in Holden at 12:55 a.m. on June 19 and, in the days that followed, in Canton, Massachusetts; in Georgia and then in Texas.

Police also learned that Lester’s cell phone had pinged off a tower in Warwick, Rhode Island, on June 21, and then on June 25 near a truck stop in Louisville, Kentucky, but they suspect that he had gotten rid of his cellphone by “giving the device to another person or placing it in or on an object or vehicle traveling independently from Lester.”

Lester was arrested Monday by U.S. Marshals in Cancun, Mexico, on a murder warrant and a federal charge of unlawful flight to avoid prosecution. He is being held in Chicago and is expected to be brought to Maine at a later date.

The affidavit does not say how authorities found out that Lester was in Mexico, or whether his SUV also has been found.

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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....