Community shocked, saddened by apparent murder-suicide

SACO, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- As investigators continued to search for a motive in an apparent murder-suicide that left a family of five dead, neighbors and friends of the family looked for warning signs or clues that could have helped them prevent this tragedy.

"I was the one who was helping her so they could do couples counseling and stay together," said family friend, Heather Lemmer.

Lemmer said 33-year-old Joel Smith and his wife, 35-year-old Heather Smith, had moved to Maine from Arizona a few years ago. She says Joel worked as a maintenance man at RiverView Apartments where the family lived.

"He was good with them, you know," she said. "He and I got along really well because we had the best interest at heart for the kids."

State Police investigators said Joel Smith shot his wife and 12-year-old stepson, Jason Montez, 7-year-old son, Noah Montez and their daughter, 4-year-old Lily Smith before turning the shotgun on himself late Saturday night.

"The oldest one he was just becoming a teenager and he was turning his voice and everything and growing tall, and then the little one was just like his daddy and then the baby looked just like her," said Lemmer as she broke down in tears.

"It's overwhelming," she added.

She said she is struggling with how to tell her own son about the tragedy.

"It stinks. It really stinks, especially having my own children," said Heather Nason, who babysat for the Smith's on occasion. "When I heard that they're gone I just fell to the floor and instantly started bawling. Anything tragic like this involving children, it just takes your own breath away."

"They were always just very cheerful and no one saw any of this coming," she said.

Grief counselors will be available for students, their parents and the community in general at Saco Middle School on Tuesday and Wednesday from 8:30 a.m. until 3 p.m.

There is a planned candlelight vigil for the family Tuesday night in Saco. It will begin at 8:00 p.m. at 35 Water St.

If you, or anyone you know, is dealing with a crisis situation, free professional help is available 24 hours a day. In Maine, call 211 to be connected to resources across the state. The Family Crisis Services, at 1-866-834-4357, helps with domestic violence situations. There are trained professionals. For those needing to speak with a trained professional, call 1-888-568-1112 to connect with the suicide prevention hotline.


To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment