June 20, 2018
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Domestic homicides elicit words of grief, hope

By Renee Ordway, Special to the BDN

There has been a lot of talk during the past week about the two tragic domestic homicide cases in Winslow and Dexter.

I sure have had to take my share of deep breaths while reading or listening to the various opinions that some involved family members have opted to share with the news media.

Here are some words that I want to make sure that you did hear — ones perhaps you should hear again. Statements that kicked me square in the gut. One offered perhaps just a tiny idea of the wrenching grief left in the wake of these tragedies, and one offered just a small glimmer of hope from perhaps the most unlikely source.

The first came from Linda Bagley, the mother of Amy Lake, the kindergarten teacher and mother of two who, along with her children, were murdered by her estranged husband in her Dexter home earlier this week.

“What I can’t handle, and it’s in the back of my mind when I go to bed, is what was done to them and if there was one that saw what happened to the other. I just can’t handle that. I don’t see how anyone could do what he did to his children,” she told a reporter from the Morning Sentinel in Waterville.

Can you feel that? Can you just maybe imagine what she sees in her head when she lies down to try to sleep at night?

That needs to be understood because that is very real, and like the loss of her daughter and grandchildren, it is forever.

The next came from 9-year-old Leah Gordon, who along with her 8-year-old brother, Christian, witnessed their father, Nathaniel, chase down and shoot their mother, Sarah, in front of their Winslow home last week.

He then jumped into a car and took off, and a while later shot himself in the head.

The children are now staying with Sarah’s parents in Fairfield.

Sarah’s best friend told a Sentinel reporter that a day or two after the shootings, Leah wrapped her arms around her grandmother, who was crying.

“Everything’s going to be OK,” she said. “Even though it’s bad, things are going to be OK.”

That needs to be heard as well.

As bad as it is for those two children right now, they and their family can eventually be OK.

I hear through an anonymous but reliable source that they are in very good hands.

These words are important because it’s important that all of us understand the anguish involved in domestic violence and the homicides that too often result from it.

Seeing and hearing it is what may prompt us to do more, to be more watchful of those around us and to be more careful ourselves.

But Leah’s words are equally important because it’s crucial that we don’t lose hope.

Amy Lake did things right. She had the right court orders in place, she was in close communication with police. She had a plan and she had her friends, family and co-workers involved.

It could be easy to ask: What more can be done?

It is nearly impossible to describe the progress that has been made in the battle against domestic violence in this state during the past 25 years.

Those doing the hard work in the trenches every day, keeping women and children safe and healthy and yes, sometimes hidden, are among the most dedicated workers I’ve ever known.

If anyone could become discouraged after these two brutal homicides it is them. They get tired, too.

But there is always more to do, and those workers will lobby lawmakers, cook meals in shelters, fill out forms, provide counsel, educate you and me and answer hot lines, because that’s the way things get done and lives get saved.

Lives are saved each and every day because of that work.

But go back and listen and read the words coming from some members of Steven Lake’s family.

It’s the courts’ fault; the threats he made to Amy were just his way of joking around; she and the courts drove him to it.

For as sickening as they may be, those words are important as well.

They serve to remind us all just how much more work there is to be done, and we all owe it to Amy Lake, her children, Monica and Coty, and to Sarah Gordon and her children to keep at it.

Have feedback? Want to know more? Send us ideas for follow-up stories.

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