Police: Man Who Killed Family, Self Had Domestic and Financial Issues

33-year-old Joel Smith killed wife, 3 young children before committing suicide in their Saco, Maine home

Maine State Police say the shooting that left five people dead in Saco, Maine, Saturday night was a murder-suicide.

According to Maine State Police Sgt. Chris Harriman, 35-year-old Heather Smith, 12-year-old Jason Montez, 7-year-old Noah Montez, 4-year-old and Lily Smith were gunned down by Joel Smith, 33, sometime between 11 p.m. and midnight on Saturday in the apartment the family shared in the Riverview Apartment Complex.

"It's just overwhelming," said the victims' next door neighbor, Heather Lemmer.

She said the families were friends and their kids played together often.

"I don't know how I'm gonna tell my son and his friends what happened," Lemmer said through tears.

She says her husband and son told her they heard what sounded like firecrackers going off on Saturday night. On Sunday, a maintenance worker went to check on the Smiths after family called expressing concern because no one was able to reach them. Inside apartment 201B, the worker found the victims, some of whom had been shot multiple times.

"The two older ones were shot in their rooms. The youngest girl was in the master bedroom with her parents. That's where Joel committed suicide," Sgt. Harriman said.

A shotgun was found by his side.

Both police and neighbors say the Smiths, who had moved to Maine from Arizona several years ago, were having marital problems over money.

"I was the one trying to help get them into couple counseling," lamented Lemmer.

All day long outside the apartment complex on Monday, mothers and children left offerings: Balloons, stuffed animals and flowers piled up below the apartment where the murders took place. One mother said it was the only way of coping with the grief that hangs over this Saco neighborhood.

"It's just so sad. I kept looking at my kids while they were sleeping last night to make sure they were safe," said Annie Dore, who dropped off three stuffed animals, one for each child.

There's no one to charge in this crime, but police will interview friends and family to better understand what might have motivated Joel Smith to murder his family.

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