BANGOR, Maine — While police continue to investigate who is responsible for taking the lives of three people found last week in a car that was left ablaze in a dark parking lot, friends and loved ones of the victims piece together the last moments of their lives.
They all say Daniel T. Borders, 26, of Hermon, Nicolle A. Lugdon, 24, of Eddington, and Lucas A. Tuscano, 28, of Bradford — the three homicide victims — were at a small gathering in Bangor and left together in a white Pontiac with Rhode Island plates.
The car was driven by an out-of-state man who comes to Maine on occasion, always in a rental car, the victims’ friends said, using his name, which the Bangor Daily News is withholding because he has not been charged with any crime.
The out-of-state man, who knew Lugdon and Borders, reportedly knocked on the front door of the apartment about 1 a.m. on Aug. 13 and left with the three homicide victims, possibly to go smoke marijuana.
“I don’t know what the hell happened after they left,” the man who hosted the small gathering said, adding he and his family are no longer living at that residence.
The man driving the rental car came to pick up Borders. Lugdon, who wanted to smoke, reportedly invited herself and Tuscano followed her.
“Luke doesn’t even know these people [who hosted the gathering], but he was there just to hang out with Nikki,” said Bangor resident Tiffany Sutherland, who said she left the small party of five people about an hour before the out-of-state visitor arrived. “She’s the only one he knew there, so he went with her.”
A woman on her way to work about 3:30 a.m. Aug. 13 discovered the white Pontiac with Rhode Island plates engulfed in flames in the back parking lot of Automatic Distributors, located at 22 Target Industrial Circle.
After the flames were extinguished, firefighters found the bodies of Lugdon, Borders and Tuscano, who reportedly were burned beyond recognition. Her body was taken from the front passenger seat and no one was in the driver’s seat, according to photos taken by the Bangor Daily News.
A person walking away from the burning car appeared in video surveillance images taken from Automatic Distributors, an employee and Bangor police Sgt. Paul Edwards have said.
Whether the person in the video is the same man who picked up the trio of friends is a question that police are trying to answer. The Maine attorney general’s office took over the case shortly after the medical examiner determined the case was a triple homicide.
Police are not saying a word about what they believe happened and how the three people died.
“The cause of death is being withheld for investigative purposes,” Edwards said on Friday.
No arrest had been made as of Sunday evening, Sgt. Bob Bishop said.
Lugdon and Borders both have young daughters, their Facebook pages and friends have said. Tuscano’s girlfriend is pregnant and due to give birth in a few weeks, a friend said. Attempts to reach family members of the three were unsuccessful Sunday night.
Bangor resident Shannon Lee, who has a 7-year-old daughter with Borders, said her ex-boyfriend did have drug convictions on his record but “he went to jail and he got clean” while they were together.
She said they did not run in the same circles since their separation but Borders often would stop by her house to see his child.
“Dan always wanted to show his daughter off to his friends,” Lee said.
She said they last spoke about 6 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 12, just hours before his death.
Borders’ criminal history includes convictions for unlawful possession of scheduled drugs in September 2009, assault in December 2010 and a Massachusetts arrest for trafficking in cocaine in June 2009, according to court listings printed in the Bangor Daily News.
Lee said the trafficking charge later was dismissed.
Lugdon worked at Staples, graduated from Madawaska High School in 2006 and studied at the University of Maine at Fort Kent, her Facebook page states.
She was convicted of possessing marijuana in 2008, when she was 19, and she has a conviction from June 2011 for operating a vehicle while license suspended, the BDN listings state.
Lugdon overcame tragedy throughout her life, according to previous BDN reports.
When she was just 2 years old, her grandmother Leanna Lugdon and uncle Theodore “Robbie” Lugdon were killed in a house fire in Bangor.
Lugdon’s mother died of a heroin overdose in March 2002. Just five months later, Lugdon’s father, Michael Melendez, killed her grandmother Linda Melendez. Both were heroin addicts and the killing resulted from an argument over drugs.
Nicolle Lugdon was in the house and hiding in a second-floor room with her 2-year-old brother while her father stabbed her grandmother 36 times. Michael Melendez is now serving a life sentence in Pennsylvania, BDN reports state.
“Nikki really had nobody in her life,” said Sutherland, a close friend of Lugdon’s who considered her a sister. “She heard her father kill her grandmother and still came out as one of the happiest people alive.”
Sutherland first met Lugdon when they were 7.
Lugdon spent many of her teenage years in foster care, said Kristina Sprague, who said Lugdon was her best friend.
“When she was living in Fort Kent [with her foster family], she did amazing,” said Sprague, 25, of Bradford. “She was going to college, she was working with disabled children, she tried very hard to be a good person up there, but as soon as she came back down this way, she lost it all.”
Lugdon was using pharmaceutical drugs, heroin and cocaine, both Sprague and Sutherland said.
Lugdon, who had a 2-year-old daughter, lost primary custody of her daughter to the girl’s biological father last October as Lugdon became more and more involved with drugs.
“When she lost her daughter, that’s when she started losing control of things,” Sprague said of Lugdon.
Her drug use changed Lugdon, her friends said.
“This is not the person anyone else knows,” Sprague said. “If you met her within this last year and that’s the only way you’ve known her, you don’t know Nikki. … But unfortunately when you’re doing drugs, you are a different person.”