Wednesday, December 11, 2013
The Maine medical examiner's office has completed the autopsy of a convicted sex offender who was forced to swallow a fatal dose of prescription medicine last month by another sex offender who later killed himself.
Deputy Chief Medical Examiner Mark Flomenbaum concluded that Lawrence Lewis, 68, died of "acute intoxication due to the combined effects of risperidone and nitroglycerin," said a staffer at the medical examiner's office reading from the autopsy report.
The death was ruled a homicide and the report said Lewis was "forced at gunpoint to ingest an excess of prescribed medication."
He was forced to take the medicine by an acquaintance, Bruce King, also known as Bruce Neal or Bruce Heal, 59, who shot himself during a March 11 standoff with police.
State Police spokesman Steve McCausland said the autopsy confirms what police believed about the case "that Lewis was forced to overdose on his medication and died as a result."
"His body was then hidden in a location under a stairway in the house (the men shared) and then King...got into a standoff with police," McCausland said.
McCausland said he had no new information about the case, which police said was an apparent murder-suicide but the investigation is not yet complete.
Dr. Karen Simone of the Northern New England Poison Control Center had no knowledge of the case specifically, but said that both risperidone and nitroglycerin can cause a sharp drop in blood pressure. That can lead to a sudden rapid heart beat or other complications, which in an unhealthy person, could be fatal.
The Medical Examiner reported that Lewis had high blood pressure and clogged arteries.
King had been scheduled to meet with a detective March 11 about an allegation that the convicted rapist and registered sex offender had sexually assaulted a young girl last year, police said at the time.
In an earlier interview, he told investigators that it was his former roommate, Lewis, who assaulted the girl.
Lewis' body was found in his run-down home on Route 2 in Molunkus Township in Aroostook County around the time King killed himself on Interstate 95 after a four-hour standoff with police.
Risperidone is an antipsychotic medication that works by changing the effects of chemicals in the brain, according to the website drugs.com. It is used to treat schizophrenia and symptoms of bipolar disorder, also described as manic depression.
The website includes the following warning: "Risperidone is not for use in psychotic conditions related to dementia. This medication may cause heart failure, sudden death, or pneumonia in older adults with dementia-related conditions."
In addition to being an explosive, nitroglycerin is used as a medicine to treat heart conditions.
Before he took his own life, King told Penobscot County Sheriff's Deputy Patty McLaughlin that he had killed Lewis by forcing him to overdose on prescription medication, according to a police affidavit.
King's cause of death was listed by the medical examiner's office as a single gunshot wound to the neck and head.
The incident on March 11 started when police stopped a southbound U-Haul truck driven by a woman on I-95. Lynda Fogg, 43, of Mattawamkeag – also known as Lynda Dube and Lynda Gordon – got out of the truck and told police that King, who was in the passenger seat, had been holding a gun on her.
A court affidavit says a deputy talked to King by cellphone. During that conversation, King said he had killed Lewis, his former roommate, because Lewis was molesting children and nobody was doing anything about it.
The affidavit says a man identified as Mark Vieria told police that King told him he had found pictures and videos of Lewis engaged in sex acts with children. The affidavit does not say how Vieria knew King. McCausland said he doesn't know what their relationship was.
Lewis was convicted in 1992 of raping a 9-year-old boy. He served several years in prison but had not been suspected in any sex crimes since then, police said.