EAST PITTSTON — Police say a landlord was stabbed to death Saturday evening during a confrontation with a tenant in a historic mansion the victim lived in and ran as a boarding home.

The girlfriend of the tenant said Sunday that he stabbed the landlord in self-defense.

No charges have been filed and Maine State Police haven’t identified the tenant or said that he was the person who killed Dale Clifford, 51.

Clifford died of a stab wound to the chest in an ambulance headed to MaineGeneral Medical Center in Augusta on Saturday, according to Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety.

But Lucinda Albano, who rented a room in the home at 1135 East Pittston Road, said her boyfriend stabbed the landlord with a pocket knife after Clifford cornered him in a bathroom and choked him as she watched.

She said the confrontation came after a state trooper went to the home amid a day of disputes with Clifford, who she said tried to illegally evict the couple from the home Friday before threatening them and blocking them from going into the building at different times Saturday.

A call log on Albano’s cellphone showed that she put in nine calls to emergency dispatchers at the state’s regional communications center in Augusta. Albano called the stabbing “the most horrible thing possible,” but said her boyfriend had no choice and it “should have never come to this when we asked for help” from police, who she said didn’t seem to see Clifford as “an actual threat.”

“This is going to weigh on us for our entire lives because it just didn’t need to happen,” she said.

When asked if the tenant was the stabber, McCausland said specifics of the incident are still under investigation and that “a lot of work” must still be done. He wouldn’t comment on whether police had gone to the scene that day or on Albano’s assertion that police could have taken the case more seriously.

The stabbing was reported at 6:19 p.m. Saturday, according to an emergency alert. McCausland didn’t release the tenant’s name and Albano said he declined to be identified. They were staying at an Augusta hotel Sunday.

The massive Queen Anne-style home that Clifford owned – known as Moody Mansion or Konig Villa – is a landmark in the East Pittston village. It’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places and was built in 1890 as a summer home for a rich New York City couple, one of whom grew up in Pittston.

Larry Ireland, who lives across from the home on Hanley Road, said Clifford worked “day after day” to renovate the home since buying it a few years ago and called Clifford and his wife, Debra, “first-rate people.”

“As far as I know, they’re nice people,” Ireland said. “We didn’t have trouble. There wasn’t anything going on there. They didn’t want trouble.”

That doesn’t square with the picture painted by Albano, who said Clifford was acting erratically for much of Saturday before she left her room that evening to use a shared bathroom.

Once she was there, she said her boyfriend came running into the room yelling for her to “call 911” because he thought she had their cellphone. Then, Albano said, Clifford pushed through the door, got into the room, cornered the male tenant and started choking him so hard that she “thought he was going to kill him.”

That’s when the tenant got a pocket knife from his pants and stabbed Clifford once, Albano said. He pushed Clifford away and Albano said her boyfriend fled the building to call 911 from the neighboring Village General Store.

She said that despite the wound, Clifford chased him down the stairs. It’s unclear when he was incapacitated because of the injuries.

Albano said she was upset by the police response to the disputes throughout the day, saying that she and her boyfriend were “literally in fear of our lives.” Clifford threatened them earlier in the day when she said she would call police, Albano said. She said a trooper who went to the scene that afternoon negotiated with Clifford to let the couple inside the home to retrieve belongings, but he didn’t escort them into the building after Albano requested it and didn’t return to the scene after they asked.

Albano said they got into the building for about an hour before she was on the phone with another trooper. She said she told him that she was scared to leave the room to go to the bathroom and he urged her to call if there were problems.

About five minutes later, the stabbing occurred, she said.

“There was something off about the look on his face, and we were truly scared and no one believed us,” Albano said of Clifford. “No one believed that he was an actual threat, but we could see that he was an actual threat.”

McCausland said the investigation is focused on the circumstances surrounding Clifford’s death. State police will consult with the Office of Chief Medical Examiner and the Maine Attorney General’s Office.

Portland Press Herald Staff Writer Dennis Hoey contributed to this report.