PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — A Florida man accused of strangling Presque Isle resident Leo Corriveau fled the state after the alleged killing by driving Corriveau’s vehicle to Hermon and then catching a bus back to the Sunshine State, according to an affidavit filed Thursday in Presque Isle District Court.
Robert Craig, 80, of Florida allegedly killed Leo Corriveau, 86, in Presque Isle on July 21, two days before Corriveau was found dead face down in his backyard by relatives, according to court documents.
Craig, who was arrested Thursday near his home in Clearwater, Florida, had known Corriveau for four years as a neighbor in a mobile home community in the Tampa area, where Corriveau spent his winters, according to a court affidavit written by Maine State Police Sgt. Darrin Crane.
An autopsy by the state medical examiner determined that Corriveau was strangled, suffered broken ribs and cuts on his arm and head and likely died at least 40 hours before he was found. The affidavit does not specify a motive for the slaying.
A police statement issued Thursday evening indicated Corriveau’s body was found inside his home, but Maine Department of Public Safety spokesman Stephen McCausland confirmed Friday that the man was found in his backyard.
Corriveau, a longtime forestlands businessman and father of nine grown children, returned to Maine from Florida on July 12 with Craig, who worked in lawn maintenance in Florida most of his life, according to the affidavit.
Craig stayed with Corriveau at his Route 1 home at the southern part of Presque Isle and met several of Corriveau’s children. Although it had been “common for Corriveau to bring someone with him to Maine” from Florida, Corriveau told a relative he did not want Craig staying with him anymore, the affidavit indicated.
“Leo told [his daughter] that he had to get rid of Bob because he was lazy and wanted him gone,” Crane wrote in the affidavit.
Corriveau’s car, a red Buick Enclave sport-utility vehicle, was missing from his home when his body was discovered, but police later tracked it to Hermon using the vehicle’s OnStar system. Craig caught a bus back to Florida that left Dysart’s in Hermon around 11:30 a.m. July 23, the same day that Corriveau’s body was found.
After Clearwater police helped identify Craig as a suspect, detectives interviewed him at his home in Florida on July 27. Craig told police he came to Maine with Corriveau and stayed with him until July 21, two days before he was found dead. Craig told police he left Corriveau’s home the afternoon of July 21, when someone drove a vehicle into Corriveau’s driveway and then drove away with Corriveau, according to the affidavit.
Craig said he then drove Corriveau’s vehicle to Hermon and rode a Greyhound bus back to Florida with approximately $400 Corriveau had given him.
Craig gave police a photocopy of a thank-you letter he said he sent to Corriveau on July 25.
“When asked why he photographed the letter before mailing it he stated that he likes to document things,” Crane wrote in the affidavit.
A neighbor of the two men in Clearwater told police that Craig was once overheard saying that “Corriveau has money,” according to the document.
Maine State Police detectives determined that outbuildings on Corriveau’s property had been broken into, and found bloodstains in a bathroom at the home and inside Corriveau’s car, the affidavit indicated. The blood samples were later determined to be Corriveau’s.
Police also found inside the car a Wal-Mart bag with a soda bottle, an antiseptic cream box, banana peel and receipt from the Bangor Wal-Mart
dated July 22. A DNA sample from the soda bottle found in the car did not match Corriveau.
A neighbor of Corriveau’s in Presque Isle told the Bangor Daily News earlier this week that he saw Corriveau Thursday evening but according to the affidavit, the last confirmed sighting of Corriveau was with Craig in surveillance video recorded at the Presque Isle Wal-Mart shortly after 12 p.m. on July 21.
According to WFTS, the ABC affiliate in Tampa, Florida, Craig was set to make his initial court appearance in Florida at 1:30 p.m. Friday.
When Craig will be brought back to Maine has not yet been determined.
“He is being held on a fugitive from justice charge and will face a murder charge when he is returned to Maine,” McCausland said Thursday.