A Maine man is being held without bail Monday night on three counts of murder.
Keith Coleman, 27, is accused of strangling his girlfriend, 36-year-old Christina Sargent, and her two youngest children, 10-year-old Duwayne Coke and 8-year-old Destiny Sargent, in the trailer they shared on Paul Road in Garland.
According to the affidavit, Coleman told a detective that he strangled Sargent Saturday morning after a fight while her children watched, screaming in the doorway. Then he choked the children with USB cords. Autopsy results, which were released Monday afternoon, confirmed that all three victims died from asphyxiation.
Neighbor Jean Hebert said it was an older son who discovered the bodies Saturday night.
"He was crying so bad," said Hebert. "He'd just seen his mother dead with something stuffed in her mouth and and the little girl, too."
Coleman entered no plea during his initial appearance Monday afternoon at the Penobscot Judicial Center. His court appointed attorney told reporters she may seek a psychological evaluation for the defendant.
"He's very emotional and may have mental problems that are raising concerns for me," said Martha Harris, Coleman's lawyer.
While the homicide rate in Maine is low compared to other states, the percentage of domestic violence deaths is high. Of the 19 homicides in Maine this year, 12 are linked to domestic violence.
"It's always just tragic when this happens to a family," said Candace Sabol, a victim advocate with Spruce Run-Womancare Alliance. " I feel extreme grief for the family and what they're going through."
The central Maine community where the family lived is grieving hard, too, since the two children attended the Ridge View Community school in Dexter. While the Christmas break started Friday, the school will keep the doors open through Tuesday for any parents and children who want to talk to grief councilors or other staff about the loss.
"Sometimes parents want us to get that conversation started," said School superintendent Kevin Jordan.
"We have some real specific plans in place for the third and fourth graders who are impacted the most," said Jordan.
The K-8 school has already seen its share of tragedy. In 2011, a popular teacher, Amy Lake, and her two children were killed by her estranged husband.
Jordan says the school will likely plan some kind of memorial for the slain students after classes resume on Jan. 5.
Some of the victims' family members were in court for Coleman's initial appearance, but did not speak to reporters. They have started a GoFundMe campaign to raise money to cover funeral and burial costs.