SKOWHEGAN — Almost one year ago, a dispatcher took a call from a man who said, “This was a double mercy killing.” Then there was a pop sound.

From that moment at 10:41 a.m. on May 24, there unraveled a history of Barbour and Marie Flewellen that is tainted with despair. Though many things remain unknown about the couple, ages 85 and 75 respectively, it is clear they were no strangers to suicide and loss.

Barbour Flewellen’s oldest son from his first marriage killed himself. Two of the couple’s children also died tragically: A son was struck by a car as he rode his bicycle and a daughter committed suicide.

Barbour Flewellen appeared comfortable around weapons, perhaps because at one point he worked for the Central Intelligence Agency. When police found him, a stun gun lay on his bedside table.

Over the last year, more possible reasons have emerged for the couple’s murder-suicide. Their autopsy reports were released. A son wanted to speak.

But the typed reports detailing soot in the bullet wounds and the son’s description of a father afar seem to just raise more questions. The only people who could provide answers are dead.

A date book offers a clue

Police found the first floor of the Flewellens’ Alder Street home neat and organized when they arrived after the 911 call, according to the autopsy reports. Lists and a calendar were on the kitchen counter.

A date book lying open showed that the following day, May 25, would have been the 35th birthday of the Flewellens’ daughter, Maria Helena Flewellen Mikel, who committed suicide in 2004.

Upstairs, investigators found both Barbour and Marie Flewellen lying on their backs in bed.

A handgun lay at the right side of Barbour Flewellen’s head, and there was a bullet in his right temple. He was dressed in a blue robe and white T-shirt and was still warm. The manner of his death: suicide.

The items on the nightstand next to him were normal: a portable telephone, cellphone, glasses, watch, flashlight, neatly stacked books. But there was also something unusual: a stun gun. Marie Flewellen had no burn marks, however, indicating the stun gun had not been used.

Sgt. Jason Richards, with the Maine State Police’s major crimes unit, said private citizens may buy stun guns, and “there’s nothing that indicated it had anything to do with the incident.”

Marie Flewellen lay with her head propped up on several pillows and her mouth open. Her arms were under the covers, and her body was still warm. The slender woman wore a tan long-sleeved shirt and gray sweatpants that were too big and required a pin to stay up.

The medical examiner noted the bullet entered her left temple at close range and did not exit the other side. The manner of her death: homicide.

The Flewellens are buried at Maplewood Cemetery in Charlottesville, Va., with a son, daughter and Barbour Flewellen’s parents. Their death certificates are filed at the Skowhegan Town Office.

‘He left for good’

Kevin Moses, 48, lives in North Carolina and is vice president of sales for a tool machine and engineering company. He learned of the death of his father, Barbour Flewellen, in the news. He never met Marie Flewellen.

The last time he saw his father, that he remembers, was in Orlando, Fla., when he was 2 years old. Barbour Flewellen walked through the door of Moses’ grandparents house, and Moses ran up to him and hugged him.

“That’s the last memory I have of Bob, is hugging him when he came home,” Moses said. “That was probably his departure for good.”

A lot was happening to Moses’ family around the time of that hug in 1966.

Flewellen was leaving his then-wife, Patricia Flewellen, and his four children: Conway, Heather, Risa and Kevin, the youngest. Moses’ mother later married Charles Moses, who adopted the children.

Kevin Moses still has the 1972 letter Charles Moses wrote to Flewellen asking for his permission to adopt the children and Flewellen’s affirmative reply letter and envelope. Moses’ birth certificate shows Flewellen is his father.

After his parents divorced, Flewellen disappeared, Moses said.

He wants to publicly share his experience because he did not want his family to be forgotten once again.

“There’s never any mention: Hey, there was another life of Bob Flewellen that’s almost been forgotten or no one really knows about,” he said. “When Bob left, he left for good.”

‘Like a Greek tragedy’

Mystery characterized Flewellen’s life as well as death. Though Moses and his mother don’t know details of his job, they said Flewellen once worked as a geologist with the CIA, in Washington, D.C. and then Iran.

A spokesman for the CIA would not say what Flewellen did in the CIA, but confirmed the family’s claim that Flewellen was affiliated with the agency.

In 1954, Flewellen was promoted as chief geologist of the Layne Atlantic Company, and he and his new wife, the former Patricia Jane Newcomer, moved to Norfolk, Va., according to an account written by Moses’ mother.

It was there that Flewellen became involved with the church for the first time on a serious level and appeared to begin a new phase in his life: He decided to become a minister.

The couple moved to Durham, N.C., so Flewellen could attend Duke Divinity School. His wife taught dancing and worked as a secretary to help put her husband through school. In October 1958, their first child, Conway Barbour Flewellen II, was born.

The next year, Flewellen became the pastor of a Methodist church in Winter Park, Fla., and the family grew. They had two girls, Heather Lynne Flewellen and Risa Leigh Flewellen.

The family moved again in 1963 to a Methodist church in Temple Terrace, Fla. When Kevin was born in March 1964, his father decided he no longer wanted to be a minister. He took a job as a manufacturer’s representative.

“Two years following, in 1966, Bob decided that he did not want to be connected to the family any more and left unexpectedly (and unknowingly to anyone), and, as a result, we had to move to Orlando,” Moses’ mother wrote.

Forced to take care of four children on her own, she moved in with her parents.

Years later, on Sept. 5, 1995, oldest son Conway Moses, 36, shot himself to death. It was a shock, Moses said. He had not appeared to be depressed or in trouble. He left no note.

Though Barbour Flewellen had not been around for years, Conway Moses had never gotten over the fact that he’d left, Kevin Moses said. Even on the night before he committed suicide, Conway talked about their father. Moses said his brother wanted answers.

“Really what he wanted was closure. It was always a painful thing for Conway,” Kevin Moses said. “I’m not saying that was the reason Conway took his life, but it always bothered him; it always ate away at him.”

Moses and his father didn’t keep in touch, but Moses tried to keep track of him online, and Barbour Flewellen’s mother sometimes visited and shared news. Moses later learned that Barbour Flewellen married Marie.

He also learned of another tragedy through the news. Barbour and Marie Flewellen’s son — who would have been Moses’ half-brother, Barbour Flewellen Jr. — died at the age of 14 when he was struck by a car while riding his bicycle.

According to the Free Lance-Star of Fredericksburg, Va., the younger Flewellen died Oct. 25, 1989, when he was in ninth grade. Barbour and Marie Flewellen later wrote an in-memoriam piece for the newspaper on what would have been their son’s 16th birthday.

Part of it is connected to the way they themselves would ultimately die.

It read: “In growing up, he studied all facets of the military. He adopted the ancient Soldiers Prayer — ‘Kill me, but don’t wound me too badly.’ Well, his prayer was answered. He died instantly. He did not suffer. It was as he wanted it.”

At the time, Flewellen Jr. was survived by his sister, Maria Flewellen, and a half-brother, Randolph Harrison.

But in 2004, there was another suicide. Married just two years, Maria Flewellen Mikel, 27, of Destin, Fla., killed herself. The circumstances of her death are unclear. The only apparent public mention of her suicide was in her parents’ autopsy report.

“It’s almost like a Greek tragedy,” said Kevin Moses, who didn’t know until recently that Maria committed suicide.

He said he often thinks about his father’s life and wonders how he spent his time with his other children and where they lived. He wonders if his father thought of him.

Now he said he and his sisters will probably never have closure: “There will never be any reunion. There will never be any opportunity to meet him, to see him, to ask him anything, even if it was nothing more than, ‘Why?'”

A normal amount of caffeine

Barbour Flewellen spoke of mercy killings when he called 911, but it’s not apparent from the autopsy reports that either he or Marie Flwellen had life-threatening illnesses.

Barbour Flewellen had a history of colon cancer and needed a colostomy bag, but he was stable in early 2010, according to medical records from VA Maine Healthcare System-Togus.

He also had high blood cholesterol levels, high blood pressure and pitting edema in his legs, which is caused by the buildup of fluid. The medical examiner found EKG pads, used to record the heart’s activity, over his upper shoulders and thighs. Many of his teeth were missing. There was no alcohol in his blood at his death.

Marie Flewellen had a history of irritable bowel syndrome with ongoing abdominal pain and intermittent severe headaches, according to her autopsy report. She weighed 128 pounds and was five-foot, seven-inches tall.

The only compound discovered in her blood was a normal amount of caffeine.

Erin Rhoda — 612-2368

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