May 8, 2013

Slain Falmouth mom would talk about son 'and cry'

By David Hench
Staff Writer

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Andrew Leighton appears with his attorney, Robert LeBrasseur, in court Monday. Leighton’s struggles with mental illness and alcoholism devastated his mother, who felt powerless to help, friends say.

Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

Thomas Leighton once told Daniels that Andrew Leighton had been hospitalized. Daniels knew little about it but has concluded that the hospital stays must have been voluntary because Andrew Leighton passed a background check when he bought his gun at Cabela's in Scarborough on Thursday. An involuntary commitment disqualifies a person from buying a gun.

"He had been to rehab several times," Daniels said. "Tommy told me (Andrew) was hospitalized for bipolar disorder."

Angis visited Shirley Leighton this winter because she had heard that Andrew had overdosed on pills.

"She said he didn't want to come out of the house," Angis said. "She was amazed he had driven his father up to Togus. He was afraid to drive on the highway. He was very shaky and nervous."

People who knew Shirley Leighton admired her.

"She slept about three or four hours a night," Daniels said. Her mail order business, which she started late in life, was very successful.

"Tommy was retired and doing all the shipping, but it got too big and he couldn't handle the shipping," said Daniels, who described Tom Leighton as being like a brother.

"If you wanted a great neighbor, you'd have Shirley Leighton," Ryder said. "Shirley was a worker, I'll tell you that. You'd see her out there with the shovel and rake. She was just a hard worker, a real Mainer."

A few years ago, at his and his wife's 45th wedding anniversary, Ryder had a chance to talk to Shirley. She told him she didn't drink and talked about her son's challenges.

Jean Riordan, the Leightons' next-door neighbor, described Shirley Leighton as "a lovely lady."

"We talked over the fence a lot," she said.

Riordan said she saw Andrew periodically, but never had a deep conversation with him. "He was just kind of hanging around," she said.

Angis still has the duvet cover that Shirley Leighton made her as a wedding present.

"She was the sweetest possible woman, one of those people, everybody who she came in touch with probably is crying right now," Angis said.

"She was probably looking at him saying, 'Andy, I love you and just want to help you and if you shoot me, I will still love you.'"


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


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