OAKLAND — Almost two months after a murder-suicide left four people dead and orphaned a 3-year-old girl, detectives are still investigating, but haven’t released details and they say a clear motive might never emerge.

The mother of the two women shot to death Nov. 4 said the family never saw any sign they should fear the shooter, Herman DeRico.

“I guess we were all fooled by this madman,” Jackie Bragg said Wednesday in an email.

“We will never have any answers, nor will we ever understand why,” she said. “But the tears are real and the heartache is forever there.”

Jackie Bragg’s daughters, Amy Derosby and Amanda Bragg, were shot to death Nov. 4 by DeRico, along with Amanda Bragg’s boyfriend, Michael Muzerolle. DeRico then killed himself in the driveway, police say.

The killings blindsided the family and the community.

In her first public statements about the shooting, Bragg said her daughters and Muzerolle trusted DeRico.

“They let him come in their house and be part of their family,” Bragg said. “He was never disrespectful to anyone, and Amy even told us she found her husband. She was the happiest I had seen her in 20 years. She was ready to start her family.”

Bragg said she wishes DeRico simply had taken his own life. “He didn’t have to take my babies with him,” she said.

“He has taken so much from so many in just this one act. Our families have lost so much and our hearts are all forever broken.”

QUIET HOMEBODIES

On the evening of Nov. 4, residents of a Belgrade Road neighborhood heard gunshots, then sirens as police and emergency vehicles converged on the three-apartment house at 41 Belgrade Road in Oakland.

Police found the body of DeRico, 42, in the driveway, dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, a 9 mm pistol nearby.

In the downstairs apartment, first responders found the bodies of Amanda Bragg, 30, Muzerolle, 29, and Derosby, 28, all dead from gunshot wounds. Police also found Muzerolle and Bragg’s 3-year-old daughter Arianna alive.

The four adults lived in the same apartment building. Derosby and DeRico lived upstairs, while Amanda Bragg and Muzerolle lived in the downstairs apartment with their daughter.

Derosby and Amanda Bragg grew up in Vassalboro and attended Winslow High School. Muzerolle grew up in Oakland and attended Messalonskee High. He was the nephew of police Chief Mike Tracy.

DeRico wasn’t from Maine, and neighbors who met him thought he had moved into the state recently. He went by the name Khalil, and neighbors didn’t know his real first name until after the murders.

Police believe his mother lived in California and his grandmother lived in Alabama. A memorial ceremony for him was held in Selma, Alabama, but little other information is available.

Jackie Bragg said some people believe drugs were involved in the killings, but they “have to realize it was not the case.”

Those who lived in the neighborhood remembered the couples as quiet people who mainly kept to themselves.

Police never had been called to the house because of disturbances, and the adults hadn’t had any serious prior run-ins with law enforcement. DeRico was fined $350 in late August for possession of up to an ounce and a quarter of marijuana in Waterville.

Jackie Bragg said her daughter Amy was friendly and outgoing, while Amanda was more reserved and had a tougher time trusting people. The two sisters had their ups and downs but loved each other.

Amanda Bragg was apprehensive and excited when her sister moved upstairs.

The arrangement worked out, and Arianna would go back and forth between the two apartments, she said.

Amanda Bragg and Muzerolle were quiet homebodies and their lives were “all about Arianna,” Jackie Bragg said. They were planning to have more children, she added.

Arianna stayed with Jackie Bragg after the shooting but is now living with her other daughter. Jackie Bragg felt the four grandsons she has staying with her already were too much for the girl, who is an only child.

“She is thriving and doing very well, happy as ever and loved more than you know,” she said.

TOWN DEEPLY SHOCKED

In a post on its Facebook page last week, the state police said work on the case continues “although an exact motive for the violence may never be determined.”

In an interview a week after the shooting, Maine Department of Public Safety spokesman Stephen McCausland noted the difficulty in establishing a motive. “The key people that could help tell us that were all victims of the homicide last week,” McCausland said.

Hundreds of people turned out for a candlelight vigil held on the weekend after the shootings and there have been fundraisers for Arianna. Memorials for Muzerolle, Amanda Bragg and Derosby were held in mid-November.

The incident shocked people in the normally quiet, tight-knit community, and the murders made statewide headlines.

Jason Thomas, who lives next door, was one of the people who called 911 the night of the shooting, and he spoke to Amanda Bragg on the phone moments before she died.

Afterward, he wondered whether he could have done more to stop it.

“Maybe if I had run over when I was on the phone, maybe I could have helped them,” Thomas said.

“You always think about what you could have done in that situation.”