SKOWHEGAN, Maine — There were two versions of Steven Lake.
One Steven Lake murdered his wife and children and then killed himself Monday in Dexter.
The other, according to family and friends at the 37-year-old man’s funeral Friday in Skowhegan, was fun-loving, generous and devoted to the children in his life — and not just his own. The gulf between those two versions of the same person is obviously wide for the people who loved him.
“He was a lot like a father to me growing up,” said Lindsay Sadler, who is Lake’s niece. “He was a nurturer when it came to kids and he was a great father.”
Most of the funeral consisted of anecdotes told by Lake’s family and friends. Approximately 85 people turned out at the Trinity Evangelical Free Church in Skowhegan, many of them wearing dark blue Lake’s Family Heating T-shirts in homage to Steven Lake and his former business. There were few references to the horror that unfolded Monday or the potent and widespread vilification of Steven Lake since. Instead, the mourners told of Lake the outdoorsman, Lake the jokester, Lake the off-roader who would mire his Jeep and then make it a point to drench everyone in mud.
Laurelyn Fowler, Lake’s 11-year-old niece, told a story about what she said was his last outing with his children before he lost the right to see them unsupervised a year ago. That was when he was arrested for holding them and his wife, Amy, in a bedroom while he brandished a gun.
The trip, which Laurelyn Fowler was along for, was supposed to be a hike up Mount Kineo, but they couldn’t do it because they had dogs with them that weren’t allowed on the trail. Instead they picnicked, got in Lake’s Jeep and climbed around on rocks and boulders in the water.
“You would always have a smile on your face when you were with him,” said Laurelyn Fowler. “He had that special energy that could always make you happy.”
Tylene Fowler, Steven’s sister and Laurelyn’s mother, said her brother’s children were the center of his life.
“I wonder what he would have done if he’d known that [trip to Kineo] was his last time with his kids without being watched,” she said.
George Lake, Steven’s father, said his son and most of the rest of the family have always been religious, a fact that George Lake said is providing comfort amid all the agony.
“Everything ain’t fine; you know it ain’t,” he said. “I’m just thankful that Steven knew Jesus Christ as his personal savior. He was a good boy and I love him. One day all my family is going to be together again and we’ll rejoice.”
David Fowler, Steven Lake’s brother-in-law, said he can’t reconcile the person he knew with the person who was responsible for all the death.
“That guy Monday morning wasn’t my brother-in-law,” said David Fowler. “That wasn’t him.”
Pastor Richard Berry, though he didn’t know Lake, sought to comfort his family.
“In times like these, not much makes sense,” he said. “Where our hope lies is that this is not the end. There is more to come.”