SACO, Maine — Friends of the five family members who died Saturday night in a horrific murder-suicide will gather Tuesday night on Water Street to remember the deceased.
Family friend Heather Nason of Saco said the candlelight vigil will begin at 8 p.m. outside RiverView Apartments at 35 Water St., where police say 33-year-old Joel Smith shot and killed his wife, Heather Smith, 35, his stepson, 12-year-old Jason Montez, and two biological children, Noah Montez, 7, and Lily Smith, 4, before killing himself.
Joel Smith apparently was having financial difficulties and had threatened suicide earlier in the week. State police said Heather Smith had told a family friend the night of the shooting that her husband had threatened suicide earlier in the week by pointing a gun at his head.
Noah Smith had attended first grade at Fairfield School this past year, and Jason Montez was in sixth grade at Saco Middle School, where he was consistently on the honor roll.
In a note posted Tuesday on the Saco School Department website, Superintendent Michael W. Pulsifer wrote that the schools are grieving with the entire city of Saco, and would make counselors available at the schools on Tuesday and Wednesday.
“They were two great students, and I’m sure their sister was a great little girl, too,” Pulsifer told the Bangor Daily News. “Our schools are going to miss them.”
He declined to say more about the children, but said school personnel were doing their best to help the community cope with the tragedy.
“We’re going to make it through,” he said.
Heather Smith was a medical assistant at Portland Gastroenterology. A spokeswoman there declined to comment on Tuesday.
A high school friend of Joel Smith said Tuesday that he was shocked upon learning of the tragedy.
“He was a good guy,” said Jesse Smith of Richfield, Utah, who is not related to Joel Smith. “This doesn’t sound like him.”
Jesse Smith hadn’t seen Joel Smith for 15 years, he said, but had stayed in touch with Heather Smith through Facebook.
Jesse Smith’s comments were echoed by others in the Saco neighborhood who knew the family.
Ryan Lamb said the Smiths were “social” and “friendly,” and Aaron Petrin said they seemed like a “regular” family.
BDN writer Seth Koenig contributed to this report.