MOLUNKUS TOWNSHIP, Maine — The death of a registered sex offender on Macwahoc Road is connected to a four-hour standoff on Interstate 95 that ended Monday with a man’s suicide, state police said Tuesday.
State police officers found the body of Lawrence J. Lewis, 68, in his home at 450 Macwahoc Road on Monday night while other officers were engaged in a standoff with 59-year-old Bruce King several miles away. The standoff ended shortly after 8 p.m. when King shot himself in the head with a rifle.
Investigators who gathered outside Lewis’ home on Tuesday declined to release details of the connection between the deaths of Lewis and King. It might be days before they have the whole story, state police Lt. Christopher Coleman said.
“We are not in a position to draw any conclusions yet. We are trying to establish how Mr. King knew Mr. Lewis,” Coleman said during a press conference at Lewis’ home.
“This is Day One of a very complex investigation,” Coleman added.
Lewis was convicted in 1996 of sexually assaulting a 9-year-old boy who lived with him and is a lifetime registrant on the Maine Sex Offender Registry, according to previous Bangor Daily News reports.
He was convicted in September 1996 of gross sexual assault and unlawful sexual contact with the child and sentenced to 14 years in prison with five years suspended and six years of probation after he was released.
King was a passenger in a rented truck that Penobscot County Sheriff’s Office deputies stopped on the highway near mile marker 225 at about 4 p.m. Monday, said Coleman, who leads the Major Crime Unit for northern Maine.
King held a .30-30 rifle to his head at times during the standoff as police surrounded the truck and tried to negotiate with him, said Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety.
“I think the circumstances and what we’re dealing with are still being worked on by detectives,” he said.
The 43-year-old female driver of the U-Haul, whom police have not identified but have said was in a relationship with King, was able to get free of the vehicle. The woman is from Medway and King, whose hometown was not available, had been staying in the area for the last couple of months, McCausland said.
The woman is cooperating with police, officials said.
The couple had been at a motel in Medway shortly before the U-Haul was stopped. King did not offer much information about himself when he checked into the motel last week, a worker there said Tuesday.
The couple came to the River’s Edge Motel & Pizza in Medway on March 1 reportedly dressed as and claiming to be newlyweds. King wore a tuxedo and the woman was in a wedding gown, said several workers at the establishment, who declined to identify themselves. King offered documentation verifying the marriage but the workers declined to examine it, they said.
King said that he had a home in Medway and that the couple would be headed for Vermont, workers said
A taxi dropped off the couple. They stayed at the motel for three days before checking out, then called later last week to book another room for a week. The couple returned in a car last Thursday, left a day later, and revisited the motel several times Saturday and Sunday but did not appear to stay overnight on the weekend, workers said.
They refused all maid service, explaining that they would be cleaning the room themselves. Their only room service request was for two large garbage bags. They paid their bill with cash, workers said.
Workers who already had found the couple’s behavior suspicious had their misgivings further aroused when police called on Monday afternoon looking for the couple. One worker told police that the couple had a U-Haul. The woman sought a return of their weeklong reservation payment and didn’t complain when the request was refused, workers said.
By then, workers said, the couple had gone from appearing to be happily married to seeming nervous. King, they said, paced in the parking lot, and the woman spent much of Sunday talking on her phone.
State police detectives visited the River’s Edge on Tuesday before heading to the Gateway Inn, which is in Medway near the I-95 exit. Police said they searched River’s Edge and Gateway because the couple had stayed at both places.
East Millinocket and Lincoln police were among several local departments that assisted state police and county authorities with the investigation.
King has several aliases, according to a background check done by the BDN through the Maine State Bureau of Identification. He was arrested on a felony burglary charge on May 14, 1981, and charged with escape seven days later. He was charged with theft by receiving stolen property in December 1999 and burglary in February 2003.
He was convicted of all four felony crimes and was sentenced to 18 months for the burglary, one year for the escape, three years for the theft and four years for the 2003 burglary, the background check shows.
Lewis’ background check report is 17 pages long. His first offense, a disorderly conduct, was recorded in October 1970 and resulted in a $500 fine. The next year he was arrested and convicted of carrying a concealed weapon, and shortly after his 30 days in the county jail, Lewis was arrested for aggravated assault, for which he served two years in prison.
A January 1974 armed robbery in Lewiston earned him a sentence of five years in prison, and a Waterville assault arrest in March 1988 sent him to the county lockup for 364 days.
He was arrested for disorderly conduct in May 1992 followed by the December 1992 arrest for gross sexual assault. The trial took place four years later.
Aroostook County Assistant District Attorney John Pluto, who was the prosecutor in Lewis’ 1996 trial on gross sexual assault and unlawful sexual contact charges involving a 9-year-old boy who was living in Lewis’ household, recalled Tuesday that the sexual abuse occurred “over a space of time” while Lewis was residing with a girlfriend in Fort Kent.
Fort Kent police Chief Kenneth Michaud said Tuesday that he could not provide many specifics about Lewis’ criminal background but said that he was well known to law enforcement officers in Fort Kent, where Lewis was known by the nickname “Fat Man.”
The Fort Kent Police Department’s first contact with Lewis involved his disorderly conduct arrest in May of 1992.
Michaud said that he recently learned from a relative of Lewis’ former Fort Kent girlfriend that Lewis had been diagnosed with a brain tumor.
Relatives of Lewis, including a woman who identified herself as his daughter and a man whom neighbors said was his son, gathered outside his house just before the press conference. They declined to comment.
Lewis’ home had six American flags on it and in the yard, ranging from a small plastic marker near the driveway to a large flag hanging near the peak of the house. The porch had what looked like three brand-new exterior doors on it. Lewis’ vehicle did not appear to be at the house.
“He kept to himself,” said Robbie McKay, who lives near Lewis’ house. “Most people knew he was a registered sex offender.”
When asked if that accounted for the distance between Lewis and his neighbors, McKay answered, “I think so.”
BDN writer Dawn Gagnon contributed to this report.