NORTH YARMOUTH — A Georgetown man was shot to death Sunday afternoon during a confrontation that took place outside a popular beekeeping store off Greely Road in North Yarmouth, according to Maine State Police.
The victim and the person who allegedly shot him knew each other, but the nature of the disagreement and the circumstances that led to the shooting at Brown’s Bee Farm remained under investigation Sunday night. Brown’s Bee Farm is co-owned and operated by 93-year-old Stan Brown, a well-known southern Maine beekeeper.
State police said they detained 70-year-old Merrill “Mike” Kimball of Yarmouth, who allegedly shot and killed Leon Kelley, 63, of Georgetown.
Kelley is Brown’s son-in-law. Kimball is married to Karen Thurlow-Kimball, who co-owns the beekeeping business with Brown.
After questioning Kimball, police released him.
State police spokesman Steve McCausland would not explain why Kimball was not arrested or discuss possible motives, saying, “We have a lot more work to do before we can determine what happened.”
McCausland would only say that Kelley and Kimball “got into a confrontation” outside the beekeeping store.
State police detectives planned to spend Sunday night interviewing witnesses and neighbors, conducting ballistics tests on the gun that was used, and collecting evidence from the scene.
An autopsy will be conducted Monday by the state Medical Examiner’s Office to determine exactly what caused Kelley’s death.
Sgt. Chris Harriman, who was in charge of the investigation, told reporters during an impromptu news conference near the store that state police received a call about 3:15 p.m. of shots fired at 239 Greely Road — Stan Brown’s home address.
Harriman said the shooting did not take place at Brown’s home but outside his beekeeping store, which is located on land behind his home. A short gravel road known as Honey Comb Drive connects the store to Greely Road. The property is across the street from the Val Halla Golf & Recreation Center.
Harriman said Kelley died in the ambulance while it was transporting him to Maine Medical Center in Portland.
According to McCausland, Kelley was married to Brown’s daughter Kathy Kelley.
Another daughter, Anne Brown, lives in a home at the end of Honey Comb Drive. She was watching the New England Patriots football game when she heard the shots.
Anne Brown, who answered her father’s telephone Sunday night, said she is still not certain what led to the shooting. She said her family is in shock.
“We just don’t know what happened,” she said.
Brown said her father will celebrate his 94th birthday on Oct. 13.
Thurlow-Kimball did not answer a message left on her cellphone Sunday night.
According to an article published this year in the American Bee Journal, Thurlow-Kimball has served as a beekeeping partner and manager of Brown’s Bee Farm since 2009.
She and her husband have four grown children, the article says. It also says that Merrill Kimball operates a commercial lobster boat full time and maintains 800 lobster traps. The article says his boat, “Adam and Joshua” is moored in Yarmouth Harbor.
The Bee Journal article said that Stan Brown took up beekeeping at the age of 12. It also said that Brown and Thurlow-Kimball operate 54 hives and manage the retail store, which is stocked with a full line of beekeeping supplies and Maine honey products.
Stephen Dunphy, Brown’s next door neighbor and a Greely Road resident since 1971, said he knows Brown and his family, who he described as “nice and quiet.” Dunphy said he did not know what might have led to the violence that took place outside the store.
Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:firstname.lastname@example.org