A lone bouquet of flowers marks a makeshift memorial Wednesday at the end of a driveway at a Bowdoin home, where police say four people were killed: Patti Deraps Eger and Robert C. Eger Jr. of Bowdoin and Cynthia R. Eaton and David Lee Eaton of Florida. Credit: Rodrique Ngowi / AP

The parents of the man accused of slaying them as they stayed with friends in Bowdoin sought to rehabilitate Joseph M. Eaton when he was released from a Maine prison five years ago.

Cynthia R. Eaton, 63, and David Lee Eaton, 66, both of Ocala, Florida, advocated for their son to serve his probation at their home and work for his mother’s window cleaning business. They and the Maine couple, Robert C. Eger Jr., 72, and Patti Deraps Eger, 62, were found shot to death Tuesday in the Egers’ home at 1459 Augusta Road in Bowdoin.

Their deaths have been ruled homicides by the Maine medical examiner’s office. Joseph Eaton, 34, has been charged with four counts of murder.

The letter, which was dated Jan. 20, 2017, and sent to the courthouse in Wiscasset, is attached to a court file and is a window into the parents’ challenges with a son who had a violent criminal history before and afterward. They said he needed their “support and guidance.”

The elder Eatons asked that Joseph Eaton be allowed to serve the three years of probation on his Maine sentence in Florida and live with them. The letter said that he was expected to be released in late July or early August from the Downeast Correctional Facility in Machiasport.

The letter was signed by both parents, who noted their occupations. David Eaton was a retired U.S. Navy chief, while Cindy Eaton owned a window cleaning company in Auburndale, Florida, which is roughly 48 miles east of Tampa.

The parents said they wanted Joseph Eaton to stay with them until he could settle into his own home and they were “willing to do whatever it takes to comply with all requirements and regulations to allow this to occur.”

“Cindy owns her own business, has battled through some serious health concerns over the last two years and currently needs assistance to keep the business profitable,” the letter read.

The parents went on to say that three years earlier an older son had lived with them after getting out of the U.S. Marines and being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

“He moved in with us and we worked with him and successfully helped him get back on his feet and focused on his future,” the letter went on. “Our efforts helped him become a positive contributor to society and he now has a bright future with a great career.”

The Eatons’ hopes for their younger son were thwarted when Joseph Eaton was arrested by deputies with the Nassau County Sheriff’s Office on Jan. 21, 2018, after a violent incident at a relative’s home. After Eaton served three years in a Florida prison, he was returned to Maine, where his probation was revoked.

Eaton was on probation in Florida for a 2015 assault in Maine on a relative. His probation was revoked because of the new criminal convictions in Florida. Eaton, whose criminal history in Maine dates back to 2013, has convictions for operating while under the influence of intoxicants, assault on a child under the age of six and an assault on a fellow prisoner at the Maine State Prison in Warren.

Joseph Eaton was released Friday from the Maine Correctional Center in Windham after completing his sentence. His mother picked him and took him to the Egers where they were staying, according to the Maine State Police.

Correction: An earlier version of this story said that the Downeast Correctional Facility in Machiasport is now closed. Although it had closed, the facility reopened a few years ago.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated when Joseph Eaton was arrested by Nassau County Sheriff’s Office. That happened in January 2018.