HEBRON — He thought they were gruesome Halloween decorations, left over from October.

It was only after Carroll Daggett walked through the mudroom, past the body lying motionless and facedown on the porch, past the splatters of blood that flecked a nearby window and through the inner door with a spiderweb of cracked glass, that he saw the words spray-painted on the kitchen counter and knew something was wrong.

“VOW BREAKER,” the words read.

Daggett looked around. Words were sprayed on other walls as well.

Daggett, 71, had gone to the home of Anita and Daniel Randall on Marshall Pond Road, the sleepy dead-end lane where Daggett has lived for 36 years, after Anita Randall had called him Thursday, concerned that the Randalls’ daughter, Claire, had not answered her cellphone. Anita, who had filed for divorce from her minister husband this week, was not at home, so could he go check on Claire?

Carroll Daggett describes discovering the body of his neighbor Daniel Randall.

Carroll Daggett describes discovering the body of his neighbor Daniel Randall. (Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer) Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

Daggett never found Claire, and after realizing the body on the porch was no dummy, he called state police. Then he called back Anita Randall.

“I told her, ‘Claire is not answering, and if you could come home, I suggest you come home.’ ”

Police found Claire Randall, 27, dead in the bathroom with multiple gunshot wounds. Her father, Daniel Randall, 56, lay on the porch, dead from an apparently self-inflicted shotgun wound to the head in what police say was a murder-suicide. The state medical examiner confirmed Friday that the gunshot wounds were the cause of death for both Claire Randall and Daniel Randall.

Claire Randall in August 2016

Claire Randall in August 2016 (Photo by Da Ping Luo) Photo by Da Ping Luo

Police said Daniel Randall left Liberty Bay Recovery Center on Forest Avenue in Portland at 10 a.m. Thursday, having just completed a 90-day recovery program for alcohol treatment. He then bought a shotgun, drove to the house and broke in through the garage door because he did not have a key. He killed his daughter at 2 p.m. and spray-painted messages in five rooms of the house before killing himself, police said.

State police spokesman Steve McCausland said investigators believe Randall bought the shotgun at a store but did not know where. They are still investigating the circumstances of the purchase.

Randall was estranged from his family and had been served with divorce papers this week, state police said. Claire Randall had recently moved from Rhode Island to stay with her mother and her teenage brother in Maine. Neither her mother nor her brother was at home during the shootings.

Claire Randall performs with the band Trot Fox in New York in April.

NEW NEIGHBORS

Daggett said the Randall family moved into the tidy tan home just this summer, and he didn’t know them well, although he hauled the family’s trash every week and was familiar with their house. The couple came to Maine from Rhode Island so their son, Gabriel, could attend nearby Hebron Academy. Daggett had just met Claire on Tuesday, he said.

Daniel Randall had told Daggett that he was retired military, and a preacher. Police said Randall had been a chaplain in the Air Force.

To Daggett, an Army veteran, his neighbor’s time in the service showed in quiet ways. Daniel Randall seemed to show signs of stress, or maybe post-traumatic stress disorder, Daggett said. He struggled to hold eye contact. He would start sentences and then stop himself.

“He seemed to be a very pleasant person,” Daggett said of his new neighbor. “A sort of take-charge, family-type person.”

Recently, Daggett hadn’t seen Daniel around, and later heard from Anita that he had been in rehab.

Another family member, who identified herself as Molly and said she was Anita Randall’s daughter, declined to comment when reached Friday afternoon.

“We don’t want to talk to anyone,” she said. “Please respect us in this. It’s very, very hard.”

Daniel Randall previously served as pastor at First Congregational Church in Bristol, Rhode Island. In a letter to the congregation dated December 2014, Randall resigned his position, effective January 2015, after 12 years of service. In the letter, he said that his daughters Molly and Claire had been confirmed in the church.

“This is why my decision is so challenging at this time, but also is flavored with a hopeful and peaceful feeling,” he wrote in the letter, which does not give a reason for his resignation.

TRAGEDY STRIKES

Randall grew up in Sheldon, Iowa, and was ordained by the Yale University Divinity School, according to an online history of the First Parish Congregational Church, United Church of Christ in Saco, where Randall was pastor in 1993-1994. Randall’s first wife, Greta, died after slipping and hitting her head while she picnicked with Daniel and their two children at Two Lights State Park during the Fourth of July weekend in 1993, the Associated Press reported at the time.

She was pregnant and the baby died the next day, according to the church history. Randall took a two-month leave of absence and then left the church in early 1994. He moved to Arizona and met Anita before returning to the Northeast and taking a position at Lee Congregational Church in Lee, New Hampshire, according to the Saco church history.

Randall worked at the Lee church from 1996 to 2002, said the Rev. Gail Kindberg, who replaced him when he left. She said she met Randall casually once or twice, but did not know him personally.

Randall joined the Air Force reserves as a chaplain in 2002, at the same time he became pastor at the Bristol Congregational Church, according to the church history. He was listed as an Air Force chaplain in a 2011 Palm Sunday service at the church.

Randall helped form the East Bay Food Pantry in Bristol in 2009, said Nicki Ann Tyska, the pantry’s executive director. Anita Randall was the pantry director until the family left Rhode Island in 2014, Tyska said. She knew the Randalls only in a professional capacity, Tyska said.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to Anita Randall, her son, Gabe, and daughter Molly,” Tyska said.

Randall was an affiliated chaplain at Roger Williams University in Bristol from 2009 to 2012, but was not a full-time employee, said the university chaplain, the Rev. Nancy Hamlin Soukup. She started at Roger Williams in 2011 and knew Randall only professionally.

Daniel Randall in a 2011 video for Roger Williams University

 

“I am heartbroken by this news, heartbroken,” Soukup said.

Detectives and evidence technicians worked late into Thursday night to process the scene and returned to the home Friday morning, McCausland said.

Randall did not have a criminal record in Maine, according to state public records.

Staff writer Gillian Graham contributed to this report.