BOOTHBAY HARBOR — Maine State Police have essentially completed their investigation into the murder-suicide that stunned this picturesque seaside town but still have no idea what led a 71-year-old retired shipyard worker to shoot his wife and adult son, then kill himself.

That work may ultimately fall to the Maine Domestic Violence Homicide Review Panel, a state body that studies deadly family violence with the goal of beefing up systems to identify warning signs and act to prevent it.

Svend Jorgensen, 71, used a revolver that he had owned for some time to shoot and kill his wife, Carol Jorgensen, 75, and one of their sons, Eric Jorgensen, 40, a social studies teacher at Catherine McAuley High School in Portland, state police said. He then shot himself.

On Saturday, police found Carol Jorgensen’s body in bed at the couple’s house on Lakeside Drive in Boothbay Harbor and Eric Jorgensen in the kitchen of the home he had just moved into on Montgomery Road, which had been owned by his grandmother and inherited by his mother last year. Svend Jorgensen’s body was found in his basement, the revolver beside him, police said. He had with him a brief suicide note but it gave no explanation for his actions and included a listing of his real estate holdings.

“There’s nothing we have been able to discern as to what made this man snap and murder his family,” said Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the state police. “There was no clear medical issue involved here.”

He said police looked into health issues and financial issues but came up empty. He would not say whether investigators spoke directly with Svend Jorgensen’s physician or attorney.


“There could be some documents in the house that might lead to answers. Sometimes there isn’t,” McCausland said Tuesday. “Sometimes there’s no identifiable circumstance as to why someone does what they do.”

McCausland said detectives still have a substantial amount of work in front of them as they compile the results of their investigation into a report that will be submitted to the Maine Attorney General’s Office for review. However, the process of gathering information is complete.

“We know who committed this crime. The only thing we don’t know is why,” he said. “Unless something unforeseen comes up, we are essentially done.”

The Jorgensens’ other son, Peter, declined to speak with a reporter Tuesday.


The deaths shocked this town of 2,150 year-round residents in large part because so many people knew the Jorgensens and saw no signs of trouble.


“Everybody is talking about it because it took everybody by surprise,” said Jack Allen, a resident who said he knew the couple, though not as well as many others did.

Community members are organizing a memorial service for Saturday at noon on Boothbay Common.

There was no history of domestic violence in the family or of police being called to the home for family disputes, McCausland said.

Svend Jorgensen had no criminal history in Lincoln County and there were no protection from abuse orders requested by members of the family.

Abusive relationships can fester without people outside the family being aware, however. It is one of the reasons why the Domestic Violence Homicide Review Panel probes such cases to determine what warning signs might have been missed.

“We’ll look at everything going on with the dynamics within the family and try to understand what was going on in this household that led to this terrible act of violence,” said Deputy Attorney General Lisa Marchese, who chairs the panel.


The panel includes a physician, a forensic psychologist, mental health professionals, domestic violence advocates and clergy as well as members of the criminal justice system.

Marchese said state officials, like the public, want to know why Svend Jorgensen did what he did.

“If we can understand this, we can prevent it,” she said Tuesday. “Clearly this man thought he had the right to kill his family which is very difficult to understand and is never appropriate.”

Marchese noted that the motive for a crime often can be elusive and it is one of the reasons why prosecutors aren’t required to prove it.

“We can never prove motive beyond a reasonable doubt. We never know exactly what goes on in someone else’s mind,” she said.

Marchese said she believes more may come to light in the coming days and weeks.

The work of the Domestic Violence Homicide Review Panel may not provide all the answers that would help the public understand the tragedy in Boothbay Harbor. The panel takes months to review cases and issues a report every two years. The report draws broad conclusions and makes recommendations for changes in policy and practice, but it does not identify specific cases in its findings.


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