A selectman in the coastal Maine town of Brooklin and his wife who were found dead in their home on East Road died in a murder-suicide.
William “Bill” Cohen, 75, and his wife, 71-year-old Pamela Cohen, were found dead Sunday afternoon in what police had called “suspicious circumstances,” according to Shannon Moss, a spokesperson for the Maine Department of Public Safety.
Bill Cohen — not to be confused with former U.S. Sen. William Cohen — had been a member of the town’s Select Board for several years and was its chair when he died. Before getting into local politics, he worked for more than 20 years as a spokesperson for a string of large companies doing business in Maine.
David Reiley, also a local Select Board member, said no one he knows has any idea what could have prompted the Cohens’ deaths.
“Everyone that knew him and Pam is completely shocked and dismayed at this event,” Reiley said Tuesday. “No one in their wildest dreams would have imagined anything like this.”
Reiley said that, to his knowledge, neither of the Cohens were in such ill health that they may have considered ending their lives.
“There was nothing of such a scale that would have caused them to do that,” he said.
Bill Cohen’s lengthy experience as a corporate spokesperson for several companies was unusual for an elected official in a small town. Brooklin has roughly 800 residents, according to the 2020 census.
He worked in communications for Bangor Hydro and then Anthem Health in the 1990s and early 2000s. In 2004, he left the health care company and became spokesperson for the paper mill in Bucksport, first under International Paper and then for Verso.
He left Verso in 2015, after the Bucksport mill shut down for good. He was elected to the Brooklin Select Board that same year, according to a 2015 story published by the Island Advantages weekly newspaper.
Maine State Police on Tuesday publicly identified the Cohens as the two people found dead in their home on East Road, overlooking scenic Naskeag Point. Moss said they died in a murder-suicide and that no additional information will be released.
Reiley said that the loss of the Cohens will have a lasting impact on the town. He said Bill Cohen’s expertise and knowledge as a selectman will be difficult to replace.
“It will present challenges to the town for some period of time,” Reiley said. “Bill’s presence will be deeply, deeply missed.”
BDN writer Christopher Burns contributed to this report.