BANGOR, Maine — The Burlington man and member of the Maine Army National Guard arrested over the weekend for allegedly shooting a Webster Plantation couple made his first appearance Monday at the Penobscot Judicial Center on two counts of intentional or knowing murder.
Nathaneal K. Nightingale, 31, is charged with shooting Michael L. Miller and Valerie J. Miller, both 47, in their Tucker Ridge Road home on Nov. 28. Both died of small-caliber gunshot wounds to the head, according to Dr. Margaret Greenwald, the state’s chief medical examiner.
Nightingale told police that he shot and killed the couple in an attempted robbery after initially providing a description of a nonexistent suspect to a police sketch artist, according to a state police affidavit. He was arrested at his Fogg Road home at about 1 a.m. Saturday by the Maine State Police.
The couple’s bodies were discovered early on the afternoon of Nov. 28, according to court documents. Police were called at about 12:44 p.m., the affidavit states. Michael Miller was a laid-off millworker; Valerie Miller, a housewife. Their funeral was Saturday at a Lincoln funeral home.
Nightingale did not enter pleas to the charges Monday.
Superior Court Justice William Anderson ordered that he be held without bail at the Penobscot County Jail.
Assistant Attorney General Andrew Benson, who is prosecuting Nightingale, declined to comment on the specifics of the case but said he expects to seek an indictment Dec. 28 on the murder charges from the Penobscot County grand jury.
Nightingale is a specialist with the Guard, his attorney, Jeffrey Silverstein, of Bangor, said after the brief court hearing. His unit is scheduled to deploy to Iraq in March, the attorney said.
Silverstein said that to his knowledge Nightingale has not been deployed previously.
“It’s come to my attention,” Silverstein said, “that my client has made some statements acknowledging his responsibility in these deaths. He is extremely remorseful.
“It was never his intention to cause these deaths,” Silverstein said. “The Millers were his friends. He told me this was a horrendous series of accidents.”
Nightingale is a member of the 185th Engineering Unit based in Caribou, according to Capt. Shannon Cota of the Guard’s public information department in Augusta. Nightingale recently was transferred to the 136th Engineering Unit based in Lewiston as part of the deployment process.
Cota declined Monday to comment on Nightingale’s status with the Guard.
“We don’t discuss ongoing criminal investigations,” he said.
Stephen Smith, a Bangor lawyer, former captain in the Guard and member of the Judge Adjutant General’s office, said Nightingale’s inability to attend a weekend drill once a month before deployment means he will not be paid. There is a process, Smith said, that would allow for Nightingale’s removal from the Guard before a trial on the murder charges.
Nightingale is a 1997 graduate of Penobscot Valley High School in Howland and was a member of the Howlers wrestling team that won 72 straight meets.