BENEDICTA, Maine — A 21-year-old Bangor woman said she was sexually assaulted by a man later arrested in connection with a shooting rampage in northern Maine and blamed police for not doing more to prevent the deadly crime spree.
Brittany Irish addressed the media Wednesday at her parents’ home in southern Aroostook County, where Anthony Lord, 35, allegedly began his 18-hour rampage last week that left two people dead and five others injured, including her.
“[Police] told me they called him [about the sexual assault] and two hours later my mom’s barn was on fire,” Irish said, standing in front of the burned building Maine State Police say was set on fire by Lord.
Lord, who has a long criminal history and is a lifetime registrant on the Maine Sex Offender Registry, was charged Friday with two counts of murder and kidnapping. Maine State Police say additional charges are pending.
Irish said she spoke to media about being sexually assaulted, kidnapped and shot because she believes state police could have done more to protect her family. Irish said she requested police protection at the time her parents’ barn was burning and before anyone was shot but was told resources were not there to accommodate her.
“I don’t think they did enough. I think they need to step up their game,” she said, standing with brother Jamie Irish behind her for support.
Col. Robert Williams, Maine State Police chief, said in a prepared statement Wednesday that his officers are investigating the reported sexual assault in addition to the double homicide and related crimes. Williams also said that in the aftermath of many major incidents, state police “typically conduct a review of our response and we will do so in this case.”
During Wednesday’s 40-minute news conference, Irish recounted the chain of events.
“Last Tuesday, on the 14th, was the first time Anthony had taken me,” Irish said of Lord. “He brought me to a remote cabin [in Aroostook County], where he had strangled me with a seat belt, tied me up in the cabin and left me and then he had taken off for about an hour. When he had come back, he [sexually] assaulted me four times. He had released me in the morning [of July 15] because I had told him I wouldn’t report it to police, that I wouldn’t say anything to anybody.”
Irish said she called Bangor police when she got home July 15 to make a report and was referred to state police after they learned the alleged crime occurred in Aroostook County.
Asked for comment Wednesday, Bangor police Sgt. Tim Cotton stated in an email, “We are not commenting on her comments, or any portion of the investigation.”
Irish said she went to a Bangor hospital, where she was treated for the alleged sexual assaults, and spoke to state police detectives for an hour.
“They [state police investigators] had told me to continue to text with Anthony like nothing had happened,” Irish said. “So all day Thursday I had to text him like nothing happened. He was willing to meet me and discuss what happened, and I had told detectives in the case that I could get a confession out of him, if someone would go with me. I didn’t want to go alone. And that is when they decided to give him a phone call to let him know a case was reported. Two hours later my mom’s barn was burning down.”
Hunter Tzovarras, the Bangor attorney who was assigned Monday to Lord’s case, said in a Wednesday email that he had not heard of the assaults.
“I’ve received no information at this time that supports these allegations by Brittany Irish,” Tzovarras said. “I first learned of these allegations when they were reported by her to the media after Anthony’s arrest.”
Irish said she drove to her parents’ house with Kyle Hewitt, who is the father of her youngest child, after the fire to help her mother, who has multiple sclerosis. She said she begged police who investigated the blaze to stay in the area “because I was afraid.” She said she was told “they didn’t have the manpower to leave a man here overnight.”
Irish and her father, Rick Irish, who is a truck driver and was not at home during the crimes, said they are also upset with what they called a lack of response from state police investigators after the shooting spree.
“They left a lot out,” Rick Irish said, referring to Friday’s state police news conference held shortly after Lord was arrested. “They said five people got shot and two got killed when six people were shot. They said Brittany wasn’t hurt. You can see for yourself that she was hurt. She was the first one shot.”
After allegedly setting the fire, Lord went to a Silver Ridge Township residence and beat up the homeowner and took his truck and guns, according to police. He then returned to Kim and Rick Irish’s home on Aroostook Road in Benedicta.
“The door was shot in, and I was shot and he shot Kyle right in front of me,” Brittany Irish recalled, showing the bruise and scrape on her arm from the gunshot. “I didn’t have a chance to say anything or stop anything.”
“Kyle died a hero, doing what he thought was best and saving his family from a horrible person because nobody else would,” Brittany Irish said of Hewitt, who became her boyfriend four years ago, when her oldest boy was only 2 months old.
For some reason Hewitt moved her chair about an hour before Lord burst in firing. By doing that, she believes, he saved her life.
After Lord shot Hewitt, “I had gone into the bathroom to try and hide” and ran into her mother, Kim Irish. Lord kicked in the door and “that is when mom pushed me out the window and saved my life.”
Lord shot Kim Irish, injuring her arm, but Brittany Irish said, “I thought he had killed her. I went running for help.”
Her neighbor Carlton Eddy, 60, just happened to be driving by to survey the fire damage on his way to work and was flagged down by Brittany Irish about 5:18 a.m.. She jumped into his truck to get away, but Lord was able to get her by shooting Eddy three times “until he stopped,” the affidavit states.
After grabbing Brittany Irish and driving off with her in another vehicle, Lord got into a high-speed chase in Medway that included gunfire with an East Millinocket police officer before he pulled into a woodlot in Lee and shot two woodworkers because they noticed Brittany Irish was injured, the affidavit states.
Kevin Tozier, 58, of Lee was shot three times and died at the scene. Clayton McCarthy, 54, of Mattawamkeag survived.
After both men were shot, Lord took McCarthy’s pulp truck and headed north, according to police. He later ditched the truck and found a white pickup that he drove to his uncle’s Houlton home.
By the time they got to Houlton, Lord had sexually assaulted Brittany Irish again, she said.
He turned himself in because “I had convinced him to speak to his mother while he had the chance,” Irish said.
“I don’t think he felt bad about it at all,” she added later. “You can’t shoot people and come back from that. He had no emotion whatsoever. It doesn’t make sense.”
Brittany Irish said she survived because “I begged to come home and see my kids. I just wanted to see my boys grow up and I get that chance, but I feel so horrible that Kyle doesn’t.”
Lord was arrested about 2:30 p.m. Friday at his uncle’s home by officers from the Houlton Police Department and Maine State Police while his mother watched. He admitted to shooting five people, killing two and beating another man during the crime spree, according to court documents, and remains at the Aroostook County Jail in Houlton.
Williams issued a statement after the news conference at the Irishes’ Benedicta home.
“State police wish to express sympathy and condolences to all of the victims of the events last week in Benedicta, Silver Ridge and Lee,” Williams said. “Brittany Irish and all of the victims and their families have been through a very traumatic event.”
Rick and Kim Irish say Lord had been stalking their daughter for years, starting on the day Brittany Irish had her oldest child in July 2011. Rick Irish left the hospital for a short time. When he returned, “[Lord] was in the room. I didn’t know who he was. I Googled him and found out about his horrendous criminal past. We filed a protection order.”
That seemed to keep Lord away, for a while, Rick Irish said. The obsession Lord has with his daughter came to the forefront again earlier this year, when she was in the hospital at the same time as Lord’s 6-month-old son, Larry Earl Lord, who was taken to the hospital on May 5 and died two days later on May 7. Maine State Police, who review all infant deaths, continue to investigate the death of Lord’s son.
Jamie Clark, the mother of Larry Lord, said Wednesday that Brittany Irish was not telling the whole truth and added that Irish and Anthony Lord “came into my son’s funeral holding hands.”
Irish said after the news conference that she formed a friendship with Lord earlier this year and she was at the boy’s funeral to support Anthony Lord because “I had a miscarriage at the same time that his son died.”
Irish added she wasn’t going to “answer allegations” from Lord’s ex-girlfriend, and declined to answer questions about if the relationship went beyond friendship.
At the end of the news conference, Brittany Irish said she hoped Lord spends the rest of his life behind bars.
“I want him to be put away for life,” Brittany Irish said. “He’s gotten out so many times and gotten away. How many times does he have to go to jail before they keep him there? He needs to be put away.”
Watch a video of Brittany Irish recounting the incident here.
To reach a sexual assault advocate, call the Statewide Sexual Assault Crisis and Support Line at 800-871-7741, TTY 888-458-5599. This free and confidential 24-hour service is accessible from anywhere in Maine. Calls are automatically routed to the closest sexual violence service provider.