Money, affair listed as possible motives for man accused of pushing wife off cliff

Posted April 19, 2011, at 11:16 a.m.
Last modified April 20, 2011, at 4:34 p.m.
Charles Black
Photo courtesy of Penobscot County Jail
Charles Black

ROCKLAND, Maine — A man accused of pushing his wife off a cliff stepped into the courtroom for the first time Tuesday. Bail was set at $240,000 surety for Charles Reed Black, 68, of Camden who is charged with aggravated assault.

His attorney said Black was to be released from jail imminently.

In interviews with police, Lisa Black, 52, of Camden accused her husband of smashing a rock into her head three times on April 7 before dragging her to the edge of Maiden Cliff on Mount Megunticook and then throwing her over.

According to a police report filed in Knox County Superior Court and obtained Monday by the BDN, Lisa Black fell a short distance, then got up and started running down the mountain. She was afraid he was chasing her, trying to kill her, Maine State Police Detective Dean Jackson wrote. As she ran down the mountain, Charles Black fell past her and appeared injured.

Lisa Black made it to the bottom of the mountain to a nearby road by 3:20 p.m., when a passerby called police. Lisa Black was taken by LifeFlight helicopter to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor. Several police agencies then searched for Charles Black for 3½ hours. After he was located, he too was brought to the Bangor hospital. Both were reported to be seriously injured.

Before she left the hospital, Lisa Black filed for and was granted a protection from abuse order against her husband. Charles Black was released from the hospital Friday, April 15, and was promptly arrested and charged with aggravated assault.

The police record also outlines possible motives. According to Lisa Black, Charles Black was having an online affair with his former girlfriend. Further, Lisa Black had come into an inheritance of $4 million after her father’s death.

Money had clearly become a problem in the marriage, according to the police report. Of that $4 million inheritance, “Charles Black had been taking some of this money without [Lisa Black’s] permission.” In court Tuesday, Assistant District Attorney Chris Fernald said $150,000 also was missing from the couple’s safety deposit box.

The couple had been having marital problems for a while, according to Lisa Black’s interview with police. The April 7 event on Mount Megunticook was the latest in a series, according to the woman.

Lisa Black felt “he has been trying to kill her,” stated the police report. “A couple of weeks ago Charles had climbed a ladder to the attic. Lisa was standing at the bottom of the ladder when Charles fell down on top of her. Charles told her that he passed out.”

Additionally, the couple had climbed Mount Battie — which, like Mount Megunticook, is in Camden Hills State Park — and Lisa Black told police Charles came up behind her and hit her when she was close to the edge of that mountain. He hit her hard enough for her to fall to the ground. Charles Black told his wife he had passed out in that instance too.

Charles Black was quiet during his appearance in Rockland District Court on Tuesday, as was his son who sat in the courtroom behind him.

“He’s never had a violent history, as far as I know,” said Erik Black of Kansas City, Mo. “I suppose anyone could snap, but — no. There are multiple possibilities of what happened.”

But as Black’s attorney, Walter McKee said, “All the information about what happened is coming from the alleged victim.”

Charles Black said little to police before they brought him to jail last Friday. According to the police report, Charles Black remembers driving to the mountain with his wife from their Camden home. He remembers eating a Subway sandwich and picking up rocks during the hike for his rock collection and stuffing them in his backpack, which police later found on the mountain. Then he remembers falling down the mountain.

“He could not remember hitting Lisa or throwing her off the side of the mountain. He stated if this happened, he could not remember it and he did not know why he would do this,” Detective Jackson wrote in his report.

McKee said Tuesday that his client would soon be released from jail, but the attorney was unable to say where Charles Black would go next.

Judge Patricia Worth on Tuesday ordered Black to remain in the state. He’s also not allowed to stay in Camden, own weapons, contact his wife or have access to his passport.

Aggravated assault is a Class B crime punishable by up to 10 years incarceration and a $20,000 fine.

Fernald stated in the courtroom Tuesday that attempted murder charges could be added to Black’s aggravated assault charge.

Black’s next court date is May 25 in Knox County Superior Court.

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