Amy Bagley Lake knew that her husband was dangerous, so she did everything possible to protect herself and her two children.

With more legal protection, however, their lives may have been saved.

That is one conclusion of four former and current police officers in a recently released report. The men, who were volunteers and had no connection to the shootings, spent the last several months interviewing 69 people about the triple homicide and suicide in Dexter in June, to suggest ways to prevent future tragedies.

“We knew the system had failed,” said Brian Gagan, a former Westbrook and Scarborough police officer who helped research the report. “We did not know how.”

The report makes clear that Steven Lake, 37, of Wellington was the only person responsible for the shooting of Amy Lake, 38, and their two children, Coty, 13, and Monica Lake, 12, on June 13 at their home in Dexter. But it points to several ways that the public, police, bail commissioners, prosecutors and judges could have toughened restrictions on Steven Lake and possibly prevented the killings.

The report suggests improvements that may prevent future domestic violence homicides:

Protection-from-abuse orders and bail conditions should mandate disclosure of all firearms that are accessible to the domestic-violence offender.

An offender who seeks, hides, uses or attempts to acquire a gun or ammunition when a protection-from-abuse order is in place should be charged with a felony and not allowed bail.

Bail amounts should be high enough to deter abusers from violating a protection orders.

When a protection order violation involves a deadly threat, a judge should set bail, not a bail commissioner.

Global positioning systems should track abusers during periods of protection orders in any incidents that involve deadly threats or evidence of weapons.

At least two officers should be sent to all domestic-violence calls when officers suspect violence is likely.

Use of social media platforms by people involved in conflicts should be minimized, to prevent intimidation.

At-risk spouses should be advised to live in as secure an environment as possible, with deadbolts on doors, secured windows, motion sensor lights and a land telephone line.

People charged with domestic violence crimes should not wait more than a year to go to trial.

The research group pieced together the events that preceded the killings in Dexter. They show the deterioration of Amy and Steven Lake’s relationship as gradual, though there were significant indicators.

When Steven Lake’s daughter was learning to walk, people said, he got joy from tripping her and often flicked her in the face to make her cry. When she was older, she ducked down in the car whenever she saw an approaching Jeep or truck like her father’s.

In February, Steven Lake told one person, “When I do what I am going to do it will be on CNN.” On Memorial Day weekend, he told a relative, “I am not going to serve one day in jail.”

Before the homicides, Steven Lake wrote 13 suicide notes. He had been estranged from his wife and children for a year before the killings, since an incident on June 14, 2010, at their home in Wellington, when he allegedly threatened to kill them when a gun was hanging nearby.

Amy Lake told a domestic-violence counselor the next day about what had happened, and the counselor told police. Steven Lake was arrested and spent a short time in jail before being bailed out by his father for $2,000 cash.

In the year before they died, Amy Lake and her children lived in at least seven places as they tried to avoid Steven Lake.

At Amy Lake’s request, Steven Lake’s family took his approximately 20 firearms in June 2010. Two of those weapons, however, were with Steven Lake at the time of the homicides and suicide.

 

Morning Sentinel Staff Writer Erin Rhoda can be contacted at 612-2368 or at: [email protected]