ROCKPORT — Orion Krause appeared to have a bright future.

He lived a comfortable childhood, first on Monhegan Island, a tight-knit fishing enclave and artist colony 12 miles off the mainland, and then in the midcoast town of Rockport in a beautiful shingle-sided home with views of the Camden Hills and Penobscot Bay.

His father was a tuna fisherman and lobsterman-turned-ferry boat captain. His mother came from a wealthy family and was involved in various community and charitable endeavors.

Krause, who has a twin brother, Cooper, was gifted musically and always practiced, sometimes obsessively, and usually inside a barn on his family’s property. He was an all-state jazz drummer as a high school senior and attended the Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Ohio to learn from, among others, Jamey Haddad, a renowned percussionist and one of the top drum instructors in the country.

He graduated just a few months ago, ready to begin life as a professional musician.

Instead, he could face a life incarcerated.

On Sept. 8, in the quiet northern Massachusetts town of Groton, Krause allegedly beat to death with a baseball bat four people: his mother, Elizabeth “Buffy” Krause, 60; her parents, Frank Danby Lackey III, 89, and Elizabeth Lackey, 85; and their home health worker, Bertha Mae Parker, 68.

Krause then walked to a neighbor’s home, naked and covered in mud and blood, and confessed to the killings. Police arrested him a short time later. He made a brief appearance in court in Massachusetts last week and now is awaiting a psychiatric evaluation at Bridgewater State Hospital. Documents associated with the case have been impounded.

The violent act was completely out of character for the quiet musician from a wealthy coastal Maine family, according to several people who knew Krause. The absence of any tangible warning signs that he might become violent has made it even harder to fathom.

Wolfgang Boegel, a lifelong friend who last saw Krause about two weeks before the killings, said nothing suggested he was struggling.

“Nobody saw this coming,” he said.

Kristina Murdock, who knows the Krause family well and worked as a nanny to both boys for many years, agreed and said any signs of trouble were hidden.

‘TO HATE IS EASY,’ TO LOVE IS HARD

As a young boy, Krause was gentle and sweet, if a little shy, Murdock said. As a teenager and young adult, he was quiet and kind.

“Everyone is utterly devastated by this tragedy,” Murdock said. “Something went seriously wrong, and this horrible thing happened, but he’s still that talented young musician, a son, a brother, a best friend and (he’s) still loved, which is probably why so many of us are struggling with this.

“To hate is easy, but to love even in the face of a crippling tragedy, that’s the hard thing.”

Krause’s father, Alexander “Lexi” Krause, spoke briefly to a Maine Sunday Telegram reporter outside his home Friday. He said he and his other son, Cooper, are exhausted from all the attention and still trying to make sense of what happened. Before he took a telephone call and disappeared inside the house, Krause made a point of highlighting a pair of flower gardens on the property that he said were a constant reminder of his wife.

Elizabeth “Buffy” Krause is remembered during Thursday evening’s vigil atop Beech Hill in Rockport. Stephen Betts/The Courier-Gazette

A QUESTION OF MENTAL ILLNESS

Earlier in the week, the father told a Boston Globe reporter that the deaths of his wife, in-laws and their home health worker highlight the need “to pay more attention to mental health,” but he didn’t address whether his son suffered from any mental illness.

“There are so many unanswered questions,” he told the Globe. “We may never get answers, but we want to get some answers.”

Orion Krause’s mother, Elizabeth, was born into a wealthy and philanthropic Massachusetts family.

Her parents were known to most as Dan and Esu. Dan Lackey was an investment adviser who served as president of Spinnaker Capital in Boston. Esu Lackey had a master’s degree from the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge but devoted her energies mostly to advocating for various social justice causes.

They were involved for many years with the Chewonki Foundation, the Maine-based environmental nonprofit, among other community organizations, including their own charitable organization, the Naduse Foundation.

Elizabeth Krause went to the Dana Hall School, a private boarding school in Wellesley, Massachusetts, and graduated in 1975. She excelled at tennis and inherited her mother’s passion for community service. Everyone called her Buffy.

Orion’s father was introduced to Maine when his family summered on Monhegan Island. He later attended Maine Maritime Academy and spent several years as a merchant mariner and then as a tuna fisherman on the West Coast before returning to Monhegan Island.

He and Elizabeth didn’t meet until 1992, when they both were well into their 30s. Their twin sons were born three years later.

Murdock, the former nanny, said she has known Lexi her whole life and has known the Krause boys since they were infants.

“They called me ‘Tia,’ and I adored them,” she said. “As a baby, (Orion) wanted to be held the most by his mother. Cooper was more outgoing. Both boys were loved and adored by their mother and father.”

Before the twins were of school age, the family moved from the isolated island to the mainland. They lived briefly in Lincolnville, just north of Camden, while building a house in Rockport.

Lexi continued working but had stopped fishing, at least professionally, to work as a ferry boat captain. Buffy didn’t have a career outside the home but was active in the community at the Rockport Boat Club. She got to know Doris Buffett, the sister of Warren Buffett, who had started a charity called the Sunshine Lady Foundation, which supports programs that provide opportunities to low-income and disadvantaged people. Buffy assisted her for many years.

They still went out to Monhegan often as a family and kept many friends there.

The Krause boys attended public schools in Camden-Rockport. They played sports in middle school but gravitated to music by high school, especially Orion.

Boegel said the Krause brothers were close, as most twins are.

“They definitely had different interests and friend groups, but there was no sibling rivalry or anything,” he said.

Orion Krause, at far left with his high school bandmates, is accused of beating to death four people, including his mother, on Sept. 8 in Groton, Mass. Courtesy of Camden Hills Regional High School

EASY AFFINITY FOR MUSIC

Krause was goofy and shy in middle school and high school, former classmates said, but found his identity through music. He played clarinet at first but later settled on the drums.

“It wasn’t one of those cases where his parents forced him to play piano,” Boegel said. “He wanted to do it, and it just kind of took off.”

By the time he was a senior, he was among the best drummers in the state. At his high school concert, he played a solo made famous by legendary big-band drummer Gene Krupa.

Nancy Rowe, the high school band director, called Krause “top-notch in every way.”

Like many others, he chose song lyrics for his senior quote, printed next to his smiling face in the 2013 Camden Hills yearbook. They are from the song “Ramble On,” by Led Zeppelin:

“Leaves are fallin’ all around

Time I was on my way

Thanks to you, I’m much obliged

For such a pleasant stay

But now it’s time for me to go

The autumn moon lights my way

For now I smell the rain

And with it, pain

And it’s headed my way

Ah, sometimes I grow so tired

But I know I’ve got one thing I got to do.”

When it came time to choose colleges, the Krause twins went their own ways. Cooper chose Ithaca College in New York and later transferred to the University of Southern Maine. Orion went to Oberlin Conservatory of Music, a small but prestigious school associated with Oberlin College in Ohio.

Krause came home every summer from college, Boegel said. Friends from high school would often get together and play poker, and sometimes music, in the barn at the Krause home.

Orion Krause (far right) is pictured with (from left) Duncan Hall, Alex Wilder, Sean Oshima and Jamie Oshima, all classmates at Camden Hills Regional High School. Krause played drums for a time with this band, Mostly Brothers & Company, at venues throughout coastal and central Maine. Courtesy of Camden Hills Regional High School

A SHIFT FRIENDS, FAMILY DIDN’T SEE

By 2014, Krause had joined a local band, Mostly Brothers & Company, with four other Camden Hills classmates, including one who also attended Oberlin, and they played small venues throughout central Maine and the midcoast.

That didn’t last, though. By the following year, he was no longer playing with them. None of those bandmates responded to requests for interviews.

Some classmates said his music tastes had shifted, away from jazz and more toward harder-edged music. He would play day and night but more frequently alone, rather than with others.

But his personality never changed.

“He was the same,” Boegel said.

Oberlin classmates also saw in Krause a mild-mannered and quiet person who was focused on becoming a musician. He held a senior recital at Oberlin in April and graduated in May.

He returned home to Rockport and, like other recent graduates, was trying to decide what to do next, Boegel said.

“I know he wanted to pursue music, and I think he was trying to figure out the best way to do that,” he said.

A statement from Oberlin College to students acknowledged that it might be difficult for them to make sense of what Krause is alleged to have done.

“The nature of this crime is horrific, and the grief of family and friends immeasurable. And yet Orion is one of our own,” it read.

Police have said little about what might have motivated his violent outburst that resulted in the deaths of Buffy Krause, her parents and their home health care worker.

Krause did tell the neighbor in Groton, just after he confessed to killing four people, that he “needed his sleeping pills.”

Wagner Alcocer told The Associated Press that the young man’s eyes were “very red” and he had cuts on his body and blood above his eye and knee, but seemed vulnerable.

Friends were unaware that Krause used sleeping pills.

Based on information released by police, it appears that Krause was in some sort of crisis. He left the Rockport home suddenly, prompting his mother to call police.

MOTHER GETS A CALL FOR HELP

The next morning, he called home and said he was OK but called back a short time later and asked his mother if she could come pick him up in Boston. It wasn’t clear where he left the car he had been driving.

Buffy Krause went to pick up her son, and they planned to return home to Maine, police have said. However, they stopped at her parents’ home in Groton first.

Sometime after that, the killings occurred.

Around the same time, police said Krause called a professor at Oberlin and made troubling statements. That professor then contacted Krause’s family members, who called local police.

It’s not clear who the Oberlin professor was. A college spokesman declined to provide any additional details. Haddad, the renowned percussion expert who was one of Krause’s professors, did not respond to requests for comment.

The Krause family last week released a statement to the media, through an attorney, offering condolences to the family of Parker, the nurse for the Lackeys who also was killed. The family also asked for privacy.

Lexi Krause has since spoken to reporters, albeit briefly. He said his son got a great education and came from a loving home. He raised the issue of mental health but did not elaborate other than to say that his son’s violent rage and the target of that rage – his mother, the person who loved him most – makes little sense.

Boegel said he, too, can’t reconcile the events that took place the week before last.

“It’s weird to think that I’m not going to be up there playing hoops in his driveway,” he said.

Murdock, who admittedly hadn’t seen the family as often in recent years, is similarly stuck in disbelief.

“I still can’t believe it’s real,” she said. “And in my mind I just keep seeing this little boy with blond hair literally climbing up my body at the beach so he didn’t have to touch the sand.”

Eric Russell can be contacted at 791-6344 or at:

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Twitter: PPHEricRussell