January 3, 2013

Police saw no reason for arrest before Biddeford slayings

By David Hench dhench@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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A makeshift memorial stands across from 17 Sokokis Road in Biddeford, where Derrick Thompson and Alivia Welch were shot dead Saturday.

Shawn Patrick Ouellette / Staff Photographer

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James Pak


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The decision to arrest someone cannot be made lightly or in anticipation of a crime, said John Rogers, executive director of the Maine Criminal Justice Academy.

Cadets at the academy learn that officers need probable cause to believe that someone has committed a crime before the person can be taken to jail.

Experts said Wednesday that it would be unusual for officers to ask about access to guns in a typical verbal dispute, but the question would not be out of place if one person had threatened to shoot another.

"If someone says, 'I ought to blow your head off,' it's legitimate to ask 'Did they have the means to do that?' " said William McClaran, a former Portland police chief who is now a professor of law enforcement at Southern Maine Community College.

"You have to react to what you hear, what you're told, and demeanor" in gauging the seriousness of a threat, McClaran said.

Police had been called to 17 Sokokis Road twice in the past year.

Most recently, Pak called on Dec. 10 to speak with an officer about the procedure for an eviction, according to the dispatch log.

The log does not elaborate on what information Pak sought or what issues led him to that inquiry.

Police have said that at least part of the dispute Saturday related to rent.

In July, police were called by a former tenant who complained that Pak had moved some of their property out of the apartment and into the garage.

Police also were called in February to Robert Lemelin's nearby house for a report that Pak had left a message on Lemelin's answering machine threatening to "hunt" him down.

The dispute stemmed from work that Lemelin's teenage son had done, for which Pak thought he was overcharged.

Pak said he was angry because Lemelin had called him names when he demanded money back.

Police investigated the complaint and, according to their report, determined: "This situation is not a crime at this time. ... The case should be considered closed unless further problems develop."


Staff Writer David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:



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