LAMOINE, Maine — A local man who police say was shot and killed by his adult son early Tuesday was concerned that he might die a violent death, according to a neighbor.
Police say that Robert Tilden, 50, and his brother-in-law Russell Pinkham, also 50, both were shot and killed around 3:30 a.m. Tuesday by Tilden’s son, Leon R. Tilden, at the family compound on Bobolink Lane, off Mud Creek Road. Russell Pinkham lived in a separate house a few yards away from the Tilden home.
Leon Tilden, 27, died hours later, after Maine State Police and other law enforcement agencies were alerted to the shooting and began a manhunt for him in the area. According to police, the younger Tilden was armed when he was encountered on the property by a member of the Maine State Police Tactical Team around 10 a.m. and was shot. Leon Tilden was taken to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor, where he was declared dead later that morning.
According to police, Leon’s mother, Lori Tilden, and his brother Benjamin Tilden, 22, were at home when Leon Tilden allegedly shot his father and uncle outside. Attempts Wednesday to contact the surviving Tildens or other relatives were unsuccessful.
State police continued Wednesday morning to investigate and collect evidence at the scene of the shootings.
Lt. Christopher Coleman of the Maine State Police’s Major Crimes Unit said Wednesday that Bobolink Lane will be kept off limits to everyone but police until the Medical Examiner’s Office has completed autopsies and determined causes of death for all three men, which is expected to be done on Thursday.
“That examination is extremely important because that could tell us how many times those men were shot and what caliber weapon might have been used to do that,“ Coleman said. “We do that in almost every case to make sure the evidence we gather at the scene matches the evidence we obtain through the examination of the bodies and the investigation.”
Coleman said some of the evidence that has been collected at the property over the past two days will be transported to the state crime lab in Augusta for further analysis over the coming weeks. He did not indicate what type of evidence it is that will be taken to the lab.
Stan Olencki, who lives on the other side of Mud Creek Road from the Tildens, said Wednesday that he considered Robert Tilden a good friend. Olencki and his wife bought their property from the Pinkham family when they moved to Maine from New Jersey in 2000. Lori Tilden, Robert’s wife, is Russell Pinkham’s sister.
Olencki said Robert Tilden was “the ideal entrepreneur,” dabbling in different kinds of seasonal work to support his family.
“He made Christmas wreaths. He did a lot of chainsaw art,” Olencki said. “He’ll be dearly missed.”
Olencki said there were problems between Robert Tilden and Leon Tilden, but he did not go into detail and said he wasn’t exactly sure what may have caused the friction. He said both father and son were known to have firearms.
He said that, not long ago, he heard gunshots coming from the woods across the road on the Tilden’s property. Olencki said he wasn’t overly concerned about the gunshots, but went over to ask Robert Tilden about it. Leon, apparently, was shooting targets of some sort, he said.
That’s when Tilden told him he was worried about his son.
“He was afraid his son was going to kill him,” Olencki said. “He wasn’t joking.”
Olencki said he has been thinking a lot about Tilden’s remark since Tuesday morning.
“Maybe there is something I could have done,” the neighbor said. “It’s so senseless. I’ve been having trouble sleeping, to be honest with you.”
Lt. Coleman said Wednesday afternoon that investigators checked local police records to determine if there was a history of domestic violence complaints at the Tilden home, but none have been found.
“We can’t find any evidence there were police calls to that home for domestic violence-related incidents,” Coleman said. “At this point, we don’t know what made [Leon Tilden] snap that night.”
Coleman said Leon Tilden’s family had been worried about his recent behavior in the past few weeks and months.
“They were concerned for their safety,” Coleman said. “As for what particular behaviors those were, I’m not sure yet. We’re still trying to explore that.”
Coleman said he’s not sure to what extent family members may have sought help in dealing with Leon Tilden’s behavior. He said police have talked to Lori Tilden and Ben Tilden, but are giving them time to try to process what happened Tuesday morning.
“Obviously, the family’s been through a lot,” he said. “We’re working with them but we’re also very understanding of what they’ve been through.”
Coleman declined to comment about what kind of firearms may have been recovered from the scene or whether Robert Tilden and Russell Pinkham may have been armed and exchanged gunfire with Leon Tilden before they died.
Other neighbors and local residents who were asked Wednesday morning about the Tildens said they did not want to comment.
In addition to making wreaths and carving wood, Robert Tilden dug for clams and bloodworms.
At one point, Tilden appeared on an episode of Discovery Channel’s “Dirty Jobs,” to show host Mike Rowe how to dig for bloodworms.
In an article published in 1998 in the Bangor Daily News, Robert Tilden was quoted about his efforts to cultivate oysters in a tidal creek just down the road from his home.
“My first love was the ocean,” the article quoted him as saying. “I actually feel more proud of my oysters than anything else in my life. They’re like your babies.”
Stu Marckoon, an administrative assistant to the board of selectmen, said Russell Pinkham worked as a truck driver.
“Both of them were the nicest guys you’d want to meet,” Marckoon said of Robert Tilden and Russell Pinkham. “They were delightful when they’d come into the office to transact whatever they needed to transact. They were just good, down-to-earth folks.”
Earlier Wednesday, Maine Department of Public Safety spokesman Stephen McCausland provided some additional details of the initial double homicide: The elder Tilden and Pinkham were both found dead outside the family home. Tilden’s body was found in the driveway; Pinkham’s was in a grassy area near the house.
Leon Tilden fired multiple shots when he killed his relatives, McCausland said.
“There were a number of shots fired. … The question is the cause of death. We’ll await the medical examiner’s decision as to how many times the two victims were struck.”
McCausland said Leon Tilden had been living in a “camplike building” behind his family’s home when the shooting occurred. Police recovered a number of guns on the property, including handguns and long guns.
Police said Tuesday that Leon Tilden was shot by Detective Randall Keaten of the Maine State Police Tactical Team. Following standard procedure, Keaten has been placed on paid administrative leave while the attorney general’s office investigates his use of deadly force.
The fatal shooting is the second in Lamoine in the past seven months. Early on the morning of March 11, Ellsworth resident Lawrence “Randy” Sinclair was killed and three others wounded — including the alleged shooter — when gunfire erupted outside a local home on Route 184.
Michael Carter, 30, who lived at the home, is facing charges of murder, elevated aggravated assault, aggravated assault and illegal possession of a firearm in connection with the March shooting, which according to police arose out of a dispute over a paint job that Garland and McKinney recently had done on Carter’s truck.
Carter is being held without bail at Hancock County Jail in Ellsworth and is expected to face trial on those charges sometime next year.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.