SACO, Maine (AP) — A family of five found shot to death in their Maine apartment had moved from Arizona because of the sour economy and had financial problems, according to a relative.
A detective said murder-suicide was one of the scenarios being considered by investigators.
Neighbors identified the five victims discovered Sunday as Joel Smith; his wife, Heather; and their three children, ages 12, 7 and 4.
Heather Smith was getting help for substance abuse, said Joel Smith's mother, Jerys Caruthers-Thorpe, of Scottsdale, Arizona.
"I know something had to have snapped because Joel never would have done that in his right mind," she told The Associated Press.
Investigators said it appeared no one outside the family was responsible for the shootings. They planned to discuss the case later Monday.
The grisly discovery was made after a family friend contacted an apartment complex worker to express concerns about the family's well-being, investigators said.
Police recovered a shotgun from a bedroom where the bodies of the girl and her parents were found. The boys' bodies were found in their separate bedrooms.
Neighbors described the father as well known in the apartment complex along the Saco River because he worked for a company that provided maintenance services. They said he was friendly and outgoing.
Smith, who was a carpenter and builder, decided to follow his father to Maine in hopes of escaping the tough economy out West, Caruthers-Thorpe said.
Only recently, she said, her son had realized his wife was suffering from addiction, and they'd talked about moving back to Phoenix.
"They were having problems, serious problems," she said. "They were in the process of trying to get some help."
Many people who knew the family described Smith as friendly and outgoing, an assessment shared by his mother. "He was very talented, and artistic, and a perfectionist, and a very devoted family man," she said.
Police believe the shootings happened at about 11:30 p.m. Saturday, based on reports from neighbors about loud noises coming from the apartment.
The neighbors didn't contact police.
Heather Nason, who used to babysit the three children, shared the assessment of many in the apartment complex that it was a happy family. She said she'd see the mother outside while her children were playing several times a week.
"If there was anything going wrong, no one knew it," Nason said Monday. "Whatever was wrong, they hid it well."
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- Family & Relationships
- Joel Smith
- Heather Smith
- SACO, Maine