A Limington man is charged with two counts of murder in the deaths of a man and a woman whose bodies were found by firefighters responding to a house fire in Limington early Thursday, police say.

Matthew Cote Photo courtesy York County Jail

Matthew Cote, 21, was arrested and held in the York County Jail pending his first court appearance on Friday afternoon, said Shannon Moss, spokeswoman for the Maine Department of Public Safety.

Authorities did not release the names of the victims pending the results of autopsies that were scheduled to be conducted Friday by the state Medical Examiner’s Office. Police believe that Cote lived at the house at 259 Hardscrabble Road, but wouldn’t say how he is connected to the victims.

Investigators believe that the fire did not cause the deaths, but that will be confirmed by the autopsies, Moss said.

Property tax records indicate the house is owned by Cheryl and Shawn Cote. A neighbor said Cheryl Cote lived there with an adult son. At another address for Shawn Cote, in nearby Standish, a woman who answered the door declined to speak with a reporter Thursday.

The Limington Fire Department responded to a 911 call about a fire at 259 Hardscrabble Road around 5:13 a.m. Thursday. The man who called 911, a retired firefighter, tried to enter the home at but was unsuccessful. When firefighters entered the home they discovered the bodies of a man and a woman. Firefighters contacted both the State Fire Marshal’s Office and Maine State Police’s Major Crimes Unit.

After the discovery of the bodies, state police issued a BOLO alert (Be on the Lookout) for Cote, who was stopped a short while later by a state trooper. Cote was operating a vehicle in Limington when the stop was made, Moss said. Cote was interviewed and arrested on two counts of murder Thursday afternoon.

During a news conference at the house, Maine State Police Sgt. Chris Harriman told reporters that “there’s a possibility that he (Cote) was living in the house.” When asked to identify the victims, Harriman replied, “We have an idea, but I can’t say for certain until after the autopsies.”

Limington, with a population of about 3,700, is in interior northern York County next to Standish. Hardscrabble Road runs north to south from Route 25 to Sand Pond Road and is sparsely populated with houses on mostly wooded lots.

A section of Hardscrabble Road was closed for much of the day Thursday while detectives gathered evidence. Several unmarked police cars could be seen outside the house Thursday afternoon and yellow tape surrounded the front yard. The house, which is located on a quiet street in a wooded area, showed some damage from the fire and was charred on one end.

Debbie Martin, who lives next door, said a woman named Cheryl lived there with her adult son. Martin said the son’s father, who doesn’t live there, is her nephew.

“I hardly ever see them,” said Martin, 64. “It’s a very quiet neighborhood.”

Martin said she woke up early Thursday to the sound of sirens. She didn’t see any flames but saw smoke coming from the house.

“I really didn’t see anything, just all the ambulances and everything here this morning,” Martin said.

Cote is expected to make his first court appearance at 2:30 p.m. Friday via Zoom through York County Superior Court. He was held without bail at the York County Jail on Thursday night.

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