BOOTHBAY HARBOR — The three people found dead in this midcoast town July 4th were identified Sunday as a well-known elderly couple and their son, a high school teacher in Portland. Their deaths rattled neighbors and community members in Boothbay Harbor, a quaint seaside town where tourists ambled through the downtown streets Sunday.

Police discovered the three bodies on Saturday after doing a well-being check at a house on Lakeside Drive. No one other than the three deceased was involved in the deaths, police said.

Two of the victims, Carol Jorgensen, 75, and Svend Jorgensen, 71, lived at 236 Lakeside Drive, where police said their bodies were found. The body of their 40-year-old son Eric Jorgensen was found at 46 Montgomery Road about 2 miles away. Neighbors said Eric Jorgensen had moved into his grandmother’s house a few months ago.

Police said detectives returned to the houses Sunday to gather evidence and are likely to be back Monday. Autopsies began Sunday in Augusta and will continue Monday, they said.

In an interview Sunday evening, state police spokesman Steven McCausland declined to comment on whether the deaths involved murder-suicide. “The manner and cause of death will likely come tomorrow after the medical examiner has completed the autopsies,” he said.

The family was well-known in the community, friends and neighbors said.

Gladys Pratt, Eric Jorgensen’s grandmother, died last year, leaving the house vacant until he moved in, neighbors said. Pratt was 93, according to an obituary published in the Boothbay Register. The family owned Pratt’s Jewelry and Gift Store in Boothbay Harbor for 50 years, the obituary said.

Tony Heyl, owner of A Silver Lining jewelry store in downtown Boothbay Harbor, said he bought the store from the Pratts about 15 years ago.

Heyl said he knew the family well, describing the Jorgensens and the Pratts as “pillars of the community.”

He said he had breakfast regularly with the families for many years.

“All of them were really delightful people, very bright, very industrious,” Heyl said, adding that he was “astonished” to hear about their deaths.

Susan Foss, a family friend who lives on Montgomery Road, said Sunday that she was still unnerved by the events. She said she didn’t notice any signs of conflict within the family. Foss said she had known all three since Eric Jorgensen was “knee-high.”
“These were the last people you would ever imagine something like this happening to,” Foss said. “These were great, great people.”

Foss said she hadn’t noticed anything out of the ordinary until police cars arrived Saturday. On Sunday morning, a Lincoln County sheriff’s cruiser was parked outside the Montgomery Road house, a dark-red home with worn siding, a barn and flags of the United States, Maine and Denmark flying outside. Police tape surrounded the house. A small sign by the mailbox referred to the homestead as “Pratts Harmony Farm.”

Foss said Svend Jorgensen was retired from Bath Iron Works, and Carol Jorgensen had previously worked at the Portland International Jetport. Svend Jorgensen was a native of Denmark, she said. According to a BIW newsletter, he was an engineer and worked at the shipyard for nearly 28 years before retiring in March 2014.

Eric Jorgensen was a social studies teacher at Catherine McAuley High School in Portland. Head of School Kathryn Barr sent a notice to parents Sunday informing them of the teacher’s death and that help would be offered to students and their families.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with Mr. Jorgensen’s family and friends and with all of the McAuley community, and we are thankful for Mr. Jorgensen’s contributions to Catherine McAuley,” Barr wrote.

Foss said the Jorgensens were longtime Boothbay Harbor residents, and had moved to the house on Lakeside Drive so they could live on a quieter street.

Neighbors on Lakeside Drive said they also didn’t notice anything until police arrived Saturday, blocking the long driveway leading to the house.

Stephen and Roberta Bryer, Lakeside Drive neighbors, said the Jorgensens were happy to move into the house last year, and were planning on spending winters in Florida.

“It’s just devastating to think this could happen in your neighborhood,” Roberta Bryer said. Stephen Bryer said the Jorgensens were “extremely nice” although they did not know them well.

The Bryers and their son, Steve Bryer, helped the couple plow their driveway and shovel their back deck last winter.

“It’s a shocker,” Steve Bryer said. “He was very friendly and a great neighbor. This is not something that happens in Boothbay Harbor.”

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