Fourteen-year-old Brooke McLaughlin, who was found dead in her mother’s Mount Vernon home on Monday, cared deeply for her pet bearded dragon and was “feisty, independent and loyal,” according to school staff who knew her.

Rick Sirois, dean of students at Maranacook Community Middle School, where McLaughlin was a seventh grader, said he occasionally ate lunch with McLaughlin. During those sessions, she’d talk lovingly about her animals, especially her bearded dragon, Ziggy. 

“She’d talk about her trips to the pet store to buy crickets for the bearded dragon and her vet visits with the bearded dragon and how impressed the vets were with the health of the animal,” Sirois said. “I didn’t even know bearded dragons went to the vet, so there were always interesting conversations with Brooke.” 

Though McLaughlin was often quiet, Sirois said he admired her confidence in her beliefs and her resilience. She was also fiercely protective of her friends and family. 

“She was a very strong person who was mature beyond her years,” he said. 

McLaughlin’s teacher, Dixie Bonnevie, described her as “a kind person who loved her animals, a creative thinker, a hard worker who always wanted to succeed and was loved and accepted by her peers.” 

McLaughlin’s death was ruled a homicide by the Maine medical examiner’s office and remains under investigation. 

A red 2010 Chevrolet Impala with a Maine support wildlife registration plate of 510-AVW also was stolen from the home’s driveway. It was found Tuesday to the south in Wayne, according to Shannon Moss, a spokesperson for the Maine Department of Public Safety.

Anyone with information can call the Maine State Police at 207-624-7076.

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Kathleen O'Brien

Kathleen O'Brien is a reporter covering the Bangor area. Born and raised in Portland, she joined the Bangor Daily News in 2022 after working as a Bath-area reporter at The Times Record. She graduated from...