Read the latest on the Maine shootings
The scene at the Bowdoin home where four people were found dead on Tuesday had blood drops outside and broken glass and more blood inside. A body found in the kitchen had been covered with a towel and couldn’t be initially identified by a witness, according to a police affidavit.
Joseph Eaton, 34, is charged with four counts of murder in the deaths of his parents, Cynthia R. Eaton, 63, and David Lee Eaton, 66, both of Ocala, Florida, and the friends they were staying with, Robert C. Eger Jr., 72, and Patricia Deraps Eger, 62, who owned the home. A dog inside the home was also shot.
It’s unclear when the Eatons and Egers, as well as the dog, were killed. According to the affidavit, they died on or about Monday, a day before Joseph Eaton randomly fired at cars on I-295 in Yarmouth, about 30 miles from Bowdoin. The gunshots on the highway Tuesday wounded a family of three.
Joseph Eaton later drove 30 miles to Yarmouth where on Tuesday he randomly fired at cars and wounded a family of three.
The four deaths have been ruled homicides, and police said Joseph Eaton confessed to killing them, though they have not specified when they died. They also have not disclosed where Eaton obtained the gun. He is barred from possessing firearms due to felony convictions in Maine and Florida.
Cynthia Eaton picked her son up Friday from the Maine Correctional Center in Windham, where he had finished serving a sentence on an assault charge and took him to the Egers’ home where they were staying, police said.
The affidavit said that Patricia Deraps Eger’s sister told police she’d texted her sister at about 8:30 a.m. letting her know she’d be by the house at about 9 a.m. but didn’t hear back.
When the sister approached the house, she saw two drops of blood on the front steps. She opened the front door and called out, but no one answered. Then she saw broken glass and blood on the floor as well as a body in the kitchen that was covered with a towel. She couldn’t tell if it was Robert Eger or David Eaton because they looked similar, she said, but she suspected it was Robert Eger based on his clothing.
A note on the kitchen island said someone had been molested and no one did anything about it, but it wasn’t signed or addressed to anyone, according to the affidavit. Eaton said in a video posted on Monday that he had been molested as a child.
Another two bodies were found covered in the home and a fourth was found in the barn.
The affidavit, made available Thursday just before Joseph Eaton’s court appearance, gave the first glimpse into what happened inside the Eger home on Tuesday.
Joseph Eaton was dressed in orange jail garb and wearing a bullet-proof vest when he appeared in court Thursday morning.
Superior Court Justice Daniel Billings asked Eaton if he understood the charges but did not ask him to enter pleas as he has not yet been indicted by the Sagadahoc County grand jury. Eaton said that he understood them.
The judge also ordered Eaton be held without bail. Under Maine law, defendants facing murder charges are not entitled to bail. He also ordered Eaton to undergo a psychiatric evaluation to determine if he can assist in his own defense.
Eaton’s next court appearance is June 28.
Three people — Sean Halsey, 51, and his two children, Justin Halsey, 29, and Paige Halsey, 25, all of Bowdoinham — were wounded in Yarmouth and taken to Maine Medical Center in Portland. The men suffered injuries not considered life-threatening, but Paige Halsey was critically injured. On Wednesday afternoon, Sean Halsey said that his daughter’s breathing tube had been removed and she was recovering.
The car Eaton allegedly was driving was rented at Portland Jetport by his parents when they arrived in Maine on April 13 to retrieve him from prison. Police found both small and large caliber casings inside the passenger side of the car, according to the affidavit.
Assistant Attorney General Leanne Robbin, who is prosecuting the case with Assistant Attorney General Robert “Bud” Ellis, said after Thursday’s hearing that her office would be filing charges against Eaton in the Yarmouth shooting. She said that Yarmouth police are continuing to investigate that incident.
Robbin also said that the Maine State Police detectives are investigating who owned the guns used in the slaying and the Yarmouth shootings. She declined to say how many guns were found in the home or how many had been fired.
“As a public safety measure, we want to know where he got the firearms,” she said.
The next step procedurally will be to present evidence to the grand jury for indictments.
Andrew Wright of Brunswick has been appointed to defend Eaton. He was unable to attend Thursday’s hearing so attorney James Mason of Brunswick stood in for him.
Mason said outside the courthouse that he hoped people would reserve judgment about Eaton’s alleged actions and allow Wright to prepare the defense the defendant is entitled to.
If convicted of murder, Eaton faces between 25 years and life in prison. Under Maine law, judges may impose life sentences on defendants convicted of multiple homicides.
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 age 6 and an assault on a fellow prisoner at the Maine State Prison in Warren.
Correction: An earlier version of this story referenced a potential motive in the case. Police have not yet shared a possible motive. An earlier version also misstated the date of the killings. Police say they occurred on or about Monday.