February 20, 2019
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Police: ‘Erratic’ Lamoine man used 2 guns to slay father, uncle

LAMOINE, Maine — Citing autopsies conducted Thursday, police say Leon Tilden used two guns to kill his father and uncle early Tuesday morning.

The two victims — Robert Tilden, 50, and Russell Pinkham, also 50 — died from “multiple gunshot wounds,” according to Mark Belserene, a spokesman for the medical examiner’s office. Both deaths were ruled homicides by the examiner.

Belserene said Robert Tilden was shot by a handgun and a shotgun. Pinkham died of shotgun wounds to the head and the chest, he said. State Police spokesman Stephen McCausland said the handgun was a .22-caliber pistol.

Leon Tilden, 27, was shot dead by Maine State Police after an armed encounter around 10 a.m. Tuesday, six-and-a-half hours after police responded to a 911 call about the double-homicide. Belserene said Leon Tilden’s autopsy revealed he had been shot several times.

Belserene said that with the autopsies done, the bodies will be returned to the families.

McCausland said family members told investigators they were concerned with Leon Tilden’s “erratic behavior” in recent weeks.

That behavior “included shooting at raccoons and other animals in the middle of the night,” McCausland wrote. Family members “also said Tilden appeared to be depressed and that they were concerned with the number of guns he possessed in his cabin.”

Despite the ongoing investigation and interviews with family members, state police say they may never know why Tilden snapped, slaying his family members.

Hancock County Sheriff’s deputies first responded to the Tilden family home at 16 Bobolink Lane shortly after 3:30 a.m. Tuesday, when Leon Tilden’s mother, Lori Tilden, called 911 to report the shootings. When deputies arrived, they found Pinkham’s body on the lawn and the elder Tilden’s in the driveway.

The deputies called in backup from Maine State Police, as well as Maine Warden Service, Marine Patrol and the Ellsworth Police Department, kicking off a six-and-a-half hour manhunt that ended around 10 a.m. when the Maine State Police Tactical Team encountered an armed Leon Tilden near the home.

Randall Keaten, an eight-year veteran of the Tactical Team, shot Tilden and is now on paid administrative leave while the state attorney general investigates his use of deadly force. Police have not disclosed whether Tilden fired at officers.

Officials from this town of 1,600 have released a statement praising the police handling of Tuesday’s double-homicide and ensuing manhunt.

“At a time of day when children were going to school and neighbors were commuting to work, all were kept safe,” wrote Jo Cooper, chairwoman of the board of selectmen, on the board’s behalf.

Cooper also thanked Town Clerk Jennifer Kovacs and Administrative Assistant Stu Marckoon for taking in the victim’s families at Town Hall for crisis counseling as police secured the area around Bobolink Lane.

“Our hearts go out to the Tilden and Pinkham families in this terrible time,” she wrote.

Cooper said that despite the violence Tuesday — and another in-town gunfight in March that left one man dead and three others, including the alleged killer, injured — Lamoine is still an idyllic coastal Maine town.

“This situation raises many questions that will be answered in time,” she wrote. “But residents of the town of Lamoine can be assured that we live in a community that is filled with good neighbors who help each other. This does not change in times of trouble or danger. Lamoine continues to be a great place to live.”

On Wednesday, Stan Olencki — the Tildens’ neighbor and Robert Tilden’s friend — said Robert Tilden confided in him not long ago that he was worried he would die a violent death at his son’s hands.

Both Tildens were known to have firearms, Olencki said, and Leon Tilden had been shooting targets near the family property when his father confessed his fears to his friend earlier this year.

“He was afraid his son was going to kill him,” Olencki said Wednesday. “He wasn’t joking.”

Efforts by the BDN to contact other friends and family of the Tildens and Pinkhams have been unsuccessful.

Follow Mario Moretto on Twitter at @riocarmine.

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