WINN, Maine — A school board member set her home on fire and shot herself, committing suicide days before she was due in court to face charges that she stole more than $10,000 from a Patten man last year, officials said Friday.
The death of Lisa Fogg, 46, of Winn was ruled a suicide by the state medical examiner’s office and the fire was an arson, said Stephen McCausland of the Maine Department of Public Safety.
Fogg was due to appear at the Penobscot Judicial Center in Bangor on Monday, June 10, to answer charges of Class B forgery and misuse of identification. Investigators from the state fire marshal’s office found Fogg’s body in the burned-out home on Tuesday. On Wednesday, investigators discovered the shotgun with which she shot herself in the head, McCausland said.
In her capacity as a financial adviser to a Patten man, Fogg allegedly stole more than $10,000 by altering sums written on his checks and several thousand more dollars with a credit card she allegedly got through misuse of identification, Penobscot County District Attorney R. Christopher Almy said Friday.
“Because of the nearly complete destruction of the building, they have been unable to pinpoint what started the fire,” McCausland said Friday. “The best guess is that she likely used a flammable liquid, but we will probably never know for sure.”
“There was no note that we found because of the destruction and no note that has turned up since her death,” he added.
The Fogg family was informed of investigators’ findings regarding the fire and autopsy earlier Friday afternoon, McCausland said.
As near as investigators can determine, Fogg set the fire and shot herself after her husband, Robert Fogg, left for work sometime before 7:30 a.m. Tuesday, McCausland said.
McCausland said he did not know whether Robert Fogg was aware that his wife was suicidal.
The Fogg home was almost entirely destroyed before firefighters arrived at 391 Phillips Road shortly after receiving the alarm about 7:30 a.m. The roof was starting to collapse and within five minutes, the first floor fell into the basement, interim Mattawamkeag Fire Chief Michael Coombs has said.
Then, firefighters “got word that there might be somebody still inside the residence,” said Coombs, whose department covers Winn.
Neighbors said Robert Fogg owns a construction company that pours concrete slabs and clears camp land. He also works for H.C. Haynes, a landowner and forest products industry wood supplier, as a logger, neighbors said.
An educator who worked with special-needs children, Lisa Fogg had been a member of the SAD 30 board for the last 10 to 12 years, said SAD 30 Superintendent Barry McLaughlin, who first heard of the fire from another board member on Tuesday morning.
Friends and parents of the children described Lisa Fogg as a caring, thoughtful, generous and friendly person who loved her work and helping her community as a school board member. The Foggs, they said, had lived in the log cabin style house for three or four years, doing much of the construction themselves.
They said that she and her husband seemed fairly affluent, but her application for a public defender to represent her in the fraud case listed about $2,500 in monthly debts and everyday expenses. Her payment for the services of attorney Joshua Randlett of Bangor was $25 a month capped at $1,000, with payments to begin once mud season ended and Robert Fogg could return to logging, documents state.
Randlett declined to comment on the matter on Friday.
According to paperwork provided by Penobscot County Superior Court officials, the check forgeries occurred between Aug. 20 and Nov. 10, 2012. No dates of occurrence were listed with the misuse of identification charge.
Penobscot County Sheriff’s Deputy Peter Stone handled the investigation. Fogg had appeared in court on the matter on April 18.
Almy said prosecutors were trying to determine how much money was stolen through the credit card acquired by false means when the fire occurred.
“Now there is no point to going after it,” Almy said, “because we can’t get restitution from her.”
Nick Sambides Jr.:
Correction: An earlier version of this story erroneously said payments to attorney Joshua Randlett of Bangor would increase to $1,000. Payment for the services was capped at $1,000.