Richmond, Maine: Murder, suicide ruled cause of Richmond couple’s death, police say

Neighbors in the small community who knew the victims personally are already feeling their loss Sunday night.
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State Police say say the death of a Richmond woman over the weekend was a domestic violence homicide. Detectives say Niomi Mello was shot to death by her long time boyfriend, Kirk Alexander Jr., who then turned the 9mm handgun on himself. Both were shot in the head. Families members were updated on the case Monday.

The bodies of the couple were found in the kitchen of their home Saturday morning by Mello’s 11-year-old son, after he awoke. The boy then went to a nearby store and police were called. The shooting likely took place late Friday night or early Saturday morning.

The two bodies found deceased inside of a Richmond home Saturday afternoon have been identified as Kirk Alexander Jr., 46, and his longtime girlfriend, Niomi Mello, 37.

Their cause of death still has not been released to the public.

Neighbors in the small community who knew the victims personally are already feeling their loss Sunday night.

Pastor Lester Dow Jr. and his wife, Mary, have been with the Richmond Corner Baptist Church for more than 15 years.

“Our neighbors, we care about them all,” Dow told NEWS CENTER Maine Sunday.

Something happened inside of their neighbors’ Post Road home Saturday, where police confirm Mello’s 11-year-old son found the couple’s bodies in the kitchen.

“Very sad thing and very tragic thing,” said Dow.

Though not close with his neighbor, Dow recalls seeing Alexander from time to time.

“Several years ago, we were back and forth some and I invited him over for coffee and we talked about the Lord’s word and scripture,” said Dow. “I hadn’t seen him for a long while until just the day before this happened. Two days ago now. I had a little conversation. Everything seemed fine.”

Standing inside his church Sunday afternoon, Dow now realizes everything may not have been fine.

He said Alexander was more than just his neighbor. He was the church’s neighbor.

“I feel it personally but also folks in the area here and the church because they’re right next door, you know, a neighbor in that sense to everybody,” exclaimed Dow. Dow plans to spend the next few days comforting the community, which is already feeling the gravity of this loss, while the police continue to investigate the couple’s manner of death.

Autopsies have been completed by the State Medical Examiner’s office in Augusta and the results will be released Monday, according to state police.

Whales have worse than average year for entanglement in gear

The NOAA released a report on the subject of whale entanglement Thursday. The agency says the number of cases nationally was 76, and 70 of the entanglements involved live animals, while the rest were dead. The 10-year average is closer to 70 entanglements.

The agency says about 70 percent of the confirmed entanglement cases were attributable to fishing gear, such as traps, nets and fishing line.

The NOAA says the entanglements happened along all U.S. coasts except for the Gulf of Mexico. Entanglement’s a major concern for jeopardized species such as the North Atlantic right whale, which number only about 440.

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U.S. Border Patrol Fires Tear Gas at Families Seeking Asylum!

H1 border patrol tear gas

In Tijuana, Mexico, U.S. border patrol officers fired tear gas Sunday into a crowd of desperate Central American asylum seekers as they tried to push their way through the heavily militarized border with the United States. Among those attacked were mothers and small children, who were left gagging and screaming as tear gas spread. Mexican federal police officers in riot gear moved in and arrested dozens of the migrants; Mexico’s government says they’ll be deported to Central America. The group had broken away from a peaceful protest of thousands of migrants demanding entry to the U.S. where they hoped to win asylum. The migrants are from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, and are fleeing widespread violence, poverty and mass unemployment. This is 37-year-old Honduran asylum seeker Saúl Hernández.

Saúl Hernández: “My message to the United States president is not to scare people, because he’s showing Mexico that he has the military power. He’s also frightening Mexico. Please remove your troops.”

In response, the Trump administration temporarily closed the San Ysidro border crossing, one of the busiest ports of entry in the world, with more than 90,000 people crossing each day. Meanwhile, the administration of Mexican President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador denied it had made any deal with the Trump administration to force asylum seekers to remain in Mexico while their U.S. asylum claims are processed. The denial contradicts tweets by President Trump and a report in the Washington Post on Saturday.

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Maine Fishermen use petition and social media video to protect working Portland, Maine waterfront

“We did not want to do this, too big a project for us,” said Lane. “But we feel as threatened today as we did back then so we have to do something to slow things down.”

PORTLAND (NEWS CENTER Maine)–Fishermen who work out of Portland Harbor say they’re worried about getting forced out by development. A similar fear prompted a referendum vote and city ordinance more than 30 years ago to protect the working waterfront. Now fishermen like Keith Lane say they need to do it again.

Their immediate concern is a proposal to build a large hotel complex on Commercial Street next to Chandler’s Wharf condominiums. It’s the first development of that kind to be proposed for the waterfront side of the street. Fishermen have produced a video they hope will tell their story through social media. And they have started a petition drive to block the project with a referendum vote.

“We did not want to do this, too big a project for us,” said Lane. “But we feel as threatened today as we did back then so we have to do something to slow things down.”

Lane says they want to stop encroaching development, and Portland Mayor Ethan Strimling, said Wednesday he thinks the fishermen are making a valid point.

“We can tell already the marine industry is getting squeezed.,” Strimling told NEWS CENTER Maine. These guys feel it every day and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to recognize that if we don’t take a hard look at it we could lose something that’s precious to our economy and our character.”

The 1987 working waterfront referendum restricted non -maritime uses of the area between Commercial Street and the harbor. However, Keith Lane says three have been changes over the years that weakened the law. He said fishermen want only maritime business development in the wharf areas, saying keeping fishing related businesses close to the water it crucial to the future of fishing.

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John Ewing/Staff Photographer: Monday, January 28, 2008….Commercial fishing boats from Maine have joined the fleet of boats now fishing out of Gloucester, Massachusetts, because of increased restrictions in this state.

Federal judge will hear Wealthy Republican Loser, Maine Rep. Bruce Poliquin’s concerns to ranked-choice voting on December 5

Rep. Poliquin and his lawyers say ranked-choice voting is not constitutional, and that under the old system of one party, one vote, which Maine has used for decades, that he is technically, the winner of the CD 2 race.

(NEWS CENTER Maine) — A federal judge plans to hear concerns from Congressman Bruce Poliquin and his lawyers on December 5 regarding the constitutionality of ranked-choice voting and why they believe that he should be declared the winner of Maine’s second congressional district.

Rep.-elect Jared Golden found out Thursday, along with the rest of the state, that he was the apparent winner of the November 6 election after two rounds of ranked-choice voting gave him the majority.

Judge Lance Walker is scheduled to hear the preliminary injunction at 10 a.m. in Bangor. Poliquin is seeking for the judge to declare ranked-choice voting unconstitutional and declare him the winner of the Nov. 6 election.

Four Things to know on this Thursday in Maine: Honor Flight Maine telethon today, FBI looking for fugitive, and more.

NEWS CENTER Maine can help you get your day started right with a quick look at the stories making headlines across the state.

1. HONOR FLIGHT MAINE TELETHON TODAY

Today is NEWS CENTER Maine’s annual Honor Flight Maine telethon, where Mainers can help raise money to help send our veterans to Washington, D.C. to visit the memorials built in their honor. The phone lines, manned by NEWS CENTER Maine staff and volunteers, will be open from 5 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. $700 is enough to send one veteran on the trip. If you are in the Portland area, you can call 855-875-4328 to donate, and if you are in the Bangor area, you can call 855-874-9529.

Take our PULSE poll today to express how you honor our veterans!2. RANKED CHOICE DECISIONS EXPECTED TODAY

Candidates and voters should learn today who won the Second Congressional District race: incumbent Republican Bruce Poliquin, or Democrat challenger Jared Golden. Secretary of State Matt Dunlap has spent the past five days processing ballots from the 375 towns and cities in CD2. That work continued yesterday, despite uncertainty created by a lawsuit filed earlier this week against ranked choice. That suit was filed by Republican Rep. Bruce Poliquin and three others, claiming the RCV process violates the U.S. Constitution.

Ranked choice decisions expected Thursday

The FBI is looking for a man from Springvale, and is willing to pay for information leading to his arrest. The bureau is offering a $5,000 reward for anyone who can lead them to Joshua Weldon, who disappeared after posting bail on a drug charge. He was arrested in August and charged with conspiracy to distribute fentanyl. The FBI believes Weldon is with his girlfriend, and should be considered armed and dangerous.

FBI offers reward for information on ‘armed and dangerous’ man in Maine

4. MAINE CYCLIST RAISING MONEY FOR CHILDHOOD CANCER RESEARCH DIES

James Dobson, a man from Kittery who was cycling across the country to raise money for childhood cancer research, was killed yesterday. He was riding his recumbent cycle from New England to San Diego, California, and documenting his trip on social media. Dobson was on his bike in Lamar County, Mississippi when he was struck by a car. Police there say a storm affected visibility, and that the driver who hit Dobson probably didn’t see him until it was too late. Dobson was hoping to raise $10,000. After news of his death yesterday, thousands of dollars poured in to his GoFundMe page to surpass that goal.

Maine cyclist killed while on cross-country charity ride

The Thinning Blue Line: A police shortage in Maine could soon get a lot worse (or is that better?)

Many departments have multiple positions open, but supervisors are struggling to find qualified candidates to fill them. So what happens when a large number of veteran officers retire?

Maine is no exception.

Many police departments, statewide, have multiple positions open, but supervisors are struggling to find qualified candidates to fill them.

Even more troubling, what those numbers look like moving forward, when a large number of veteran officers can retire.

Helping people. As cliche as it might sound it’s the No. 1 reason many police officers put on the badge.

A former high school English teacher, Tyler Plourde is now a trooper with the Maine State Police. “I wanted to have an impact on my community being able to help people”.

Officer Colin Gordan is a Falmouth police officer. “People ultimately get into to police work to help people, preserve order. As corny and cheesy as that sounds it’s true.”

What’s also true is there are fewer and fewer people willing to do the job. Many departments in Maine are down two, five, even 13 police officers.

Lt. John Kilbride, a 20-year veteran of the Falmouth Police Department, says that’s an incredible strain for a department. He says, “it’s nerve-wracking, you can’t just pluck a police officer off a tree.”

There are a lot of reasons for the police shortage.

  • Low pay, when compared to the high risks of the job
  • The negative attitude some people have toward police
  • A difficult and lengthy hiring process
  • Young people entering the workforce who are making a balance between work and life a top priority (something that any cop will tell you is not easy)

Maine State Police Lt. David Tripp says while his agency has been successful shoring up their vacancy rate, he admits being down troopers can cause a strain. “We are pushing some would say beyond our capacity with the services we’re providing.”

It’s a problem that could get a lot worse.

The Maine State Police currently has 341 officers. In two years, 15 percent will be eligible to retire. That’s 51 state troopers.

There are 161 Portland police officers. Over the course of the next five years, more than 25 percent are or will be eligible for retirement. That’s more than 44 officers.

The Maine Warden Service is facing similar issues. There are 125 game wardens. Today, 23 percent can retire. That’s more than 40.

Even smaller agencies are not immune.

The South Portland Police Department has 55 officers. Right now, 26 percent can retire. That’s 14 police officers.

Lt. Tripp says, “so when we look at that number that could be fairly high, 51 potentially retiring, that does cause us some concern”.

Those numbers are forcing departments to be more flexible and take a closer look at how they’re recruiting. Some are using social media and incentives or signing bonuses to attract candidates.

But finding interested candidates isn’t the only challenge, so is finding qualified ones.

Lt. John Kilbride says, “I will go without before I put forth someone I’m not comfortable with.”

When a department is down officers, it’s forced to play defense—prioritizing calls as well as cases.

That can not only impact communities, it can place a bigger burden on the rank and file.

“You start putting stressors on really good people and they start evaluating whether they want to stick around, it’s a sinking ship. You’ve hit the iceberg,” says Lt. Kilbride.

NEWS CENTER Maine spoke with officers from agencies across the state, who did not want to go on camera. They told us “a lot of times it’s like swimming upstream” … “investigations don’t get the attention they deserve, because they’re not enough officers” … “everyone loves to take video of you hoping you screw up” and “a lot of people don’t understand our training or why we do the things we do.”

Joe Loughlin, former deputy chief of the Portland Police Department and a national law enforcement consultant, says the stress on law enforcement officers today is enormous.

Loughlin says, “for years we’ve been saying we can do less with more, well that doesn’t work anymore, you need people”.

“These are tough days for this profession and tough days for the citizens because in the end, it’s the good citizens who suffer,” says Loughlin.

Loughlin, as well as those still in law enforcement, says they’re confident that, while it won’t happen right away, this shortage will pass and ultimately enough people will answer the call to protect and serve.

Lt. Tripp says, “I’ve had citizens say to me why would you do this job? Why would you want to do a job with everything going on today? Police officers being shot at or shot. Why would you do it? For me personally, if it’s not us, then who is it?”