OLD TOWN, Maine — April Haskell and Christopher Ouellette were having trouble with their relationship, and she was pregnant with their third child, a co-worker of Haskell’s said Thursday, less than 24 hours after the violent deaths of the couple.
Haskell, 35, was allegedly stabbed to death by Ouellette, 28, in a domestic violence homicide Wednesday night, according to a statement released by Department of Public Safety spokesman Stephen McCausland on Thursday morning. Ouellette was subsequently shot and killed by State Trooper Barry Meserve.
“It’s hard because we all knew … that they were having trouble, but we never thought anything like this would happen,” said Tracie Peters, who is married to Ouellette’s brother, Scott, and was Haskell’s co-worker at Quality Inn in Bangor. Haskell was a housekeeper at the hotel on Hogan Road. Ouellette did not work, according to state police.
“Obviously there was something terribly wrong with their relationship,” McCausland said Thursday evening. “We’re still looking into what sparked that violence.”
Haskell was 27 weeks pregnant, said Peters. She was due to deliver a boy by the end of January and planned to name him Oliver, Peters said. McCausland said Haskell was believed to be pregnant, but did not know how far along she was. An autopsy will be performed on Haskell on Friday.
“She’ll be dearly missed,” Haskell’s sister, Orono resident Tracey Haskell, said Thursday afternoon. “She was a great mother.”
April Haskell had four children and her two youngest, ages 2 and 4, were in the third-floor apartment, which is located on the corner of Main and Middle streets, during the incident. They were unharmed and placed in the care of her sister.
“They’ll remain with me,” Tracey Haskell said. “I’m on my way downtown now to get custody papers.”
Ouellette released the children from the couple’s downtown apartment to Old Town police and subsequently to relatives before he was fatally shot. The autopsy found that he died of a single gunshot wound to the head, according to McCausland.
Peters said the last month of the relationship between April Haskell and Ouellette “has been the worst.” The couple had been together for the past seven years, she said.
“They actually had discussed like a month ago that she couldn’t do it anymore, but they were both still going to live there so they could both be with the kids,” said Peters.
Co-worker Sheila Buck of Greenbush said the housekeepers were like family, and the news of Haskell’s death hit them hard. She was someone who always tried to brighten up someone else’s day.
“We’re missing her smiling face,” said Buck. “She was a really great person, and she would do anything for anybody. She would put other people before herself.”
‘Peanutbutter and jelly’ was a phrase Haskell used often, said Buck.
“That was her ‘It’s all good’ saying,” she said.
The Maine State Police Major Crimes Unit was still on the scene Thursday afternoon conducting the investigation. Lt. Christopher Coleman, commander of the Major Crimes Unit declined to comment about the case.
Ouellette had a history of domestic violence. He was arrested for domestic violence assault April 24, 2009, while living in Bradford, the Penobscot County district attorney’s office confirmed Thursday.
He was originally charged with domestic violence assault against Haskell and one of her nephews, said McCausland. However, Haskell had the charge of assault on her dismissed. Ouellette was convicted of domestic violence assault against the nephew and was ordered in June 2010 to pay a $300 fine, according to Bangor Daily News archives.
Meserve, a 15-year veteran of the Maine State Police, was placed on administrative leave with pay as state police and the Maine attorney general’s office investigate the incident, as is standard procedure in an officer-involved shooting.
Police responded to the downtown apartment at around 6 p.m. after Ouellette called police to say he had stabbed his girlfriend, according to McCausland Wednesday night.
Scott Morrison, 42, a former U.S. Army infantryman who lives in Old Town and was near the scene, said he heard five shots as the incident unfolded. The first one was either a high-powered rifle or shotgun, he said, and the next four were pistol shots.
Ouellette and Haskell had lived in the apartment for about two months, according to McCausland. The couple had lived in Bradford and Milford before moving to Old Town, said Peters.
Old Town and Orono police, Penobscot County Sheriff’s Department and the Maine Warden Service assisted state police at the scene Wednesday night.
Both Haskell and Ouellette had a Facebook page. Haskell’s features a picture of the two younger children, and says she is from Levant, went to Hermon High School and was a 2000 graduate of Eastern Maine Technical College.
Ouellette’s page says he’s from Bangor and graduated from Dexter Regional High School.
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence and would like to talk with an advocate, call 866-834-4357, TRS 800-787-3224. This free, confidential service is available 24/7 and is accessible from anywhere in Maine.
BDN reporters Nok-Noi Ricker and Dawn Gagnon contributed to this report.