Maine State Police arrested a Peru man Thursday in the slayings of his former girlfriend and her current partner, who were found dead Tuesday night inside their apartment in South Paris.

Mark Penley Oxford County Sheriff's Office photo

Mark Penley, 49, was charged with two counts of murder in the deaths of Heather Bickford of Paris and Dana Hill of Canton, both 31, Steve McCausland, spokesman of the Maine Department of Public Safety, said in a news release. Penley was being held without bail at the Oxford County Jail, pending his initial court appearance Friday at the Oxford County courthouse.

Penley had gone to the Rumford Police Department on Thursday to be interviewed by state police detectives and was arrested around 7:30 p.m., McCausland said.

Police found the couple’s bodies in the apartment, which was being rented by Hill, after Penley made a 911 call to police reporting the deaths around 8:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Before Bickford moved in with Hill, court records indicate she had a turbulent relationship with Penley.

The couple broke up in May 2018 after 10 years together, according to court documents. They had filed for protection from abuse orders against each other and were engaged in battles over custody of their daughter.

In 2004, Penley was charged with stabbing his former wife during a domestic dispute on Waldo Street in Rumford. In that attack, Penley was charged with violating a protective order, felony aggravated assault, felony terrorizing with a dangerous weapon, felony burglary and obstructing the report of a crime by not allowing the victim to call police.

He was ultimately sentenced to a year in jail, with all but 14 days suspended.

State police spent Thursday continuing to examine the Market Square apartment where Bickford and Hill were found. McCausland said additional information regarding the investigation is likely to be released Friday in conjunction with Penley’s court appearance. The time of his appearance was not available Thursday night.

Bickford’s daughters, ages 8 years and 2 months, were home when the couple’s bodies were discovered. They were not injured and were in the custody of the state Department of Health and Human Services.

Police have declined to release information on how the couple died. The state Medical Examiner’s Office had been scheduled to conduct autopsies on Wednesday.

A GoFundMe page was created Wednesday evening asking people to help raise money to provide for Bickford’s daughters. As of Thursday evening, 48 people had donated $2,720 toward the $10,000 goal.

Sun Journal Staff Writer Matt Daigle contributed to this report.

Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

[email protected]