A church service and public memorial will be held next Friday for Nicole Mokeme, the Black community leader killed in a hit-and-run crash in Acadia National Park last week.

The service will be held July 1 at noon at the Cathedral Church of St. Luke on State Street, followed by a public reception in Deering Oaks park at 3 p.m., according to a GoFundMe campaign raising money for funeral expenses and to assist Mokeme’s 11-year-old daughter. The campaign had raised more than $17,000 as of early Friday afternoon.

Mokeme called herself the “keeper of the flame,” friends have said, and had become a pillar of local Black organizations through years of grassroots organizing and community support work.

Nicole Mokeme was the founder of Rise and Shine Youth Retreat in Bowdoin. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

“It is our turn to give and shine the light for Nicole to see,” wrote the fundraiser’s organizer, Rene Johnson. “Help support Nicole’s legacy, her daughter. Nicole set a standard for all of us on how to be a true community; to engage with and respect this Wabanaki territory that holds us. Let us be the standard and support Nicole’s legacy today.”

Mokeme, who ran an organization called Rise and Shine Youth Retreat, was killed during a retreat she had organized at Acadia. It drew more than two dozen people to the national park starting June 14 for a week of deep rest, outdoor excursions and community building. Mokeme founded her organization in 2014 to help Black girls access and learn to love the outdoors.

In addition to her own organization, Mokeme was involved in or helped found the Black Artist Forum, Embodied Equity Consulting, The Ensemble of Color ( formerly, Theater Ensemble of Color), The For Us By Us Fund, The Third Place, Hi Tiger, Portland Empowered, Women United Around the World and 21st Century, Johnson wrote.


“Nicole Chioma is a cosmic force of electrifying, Universal Love,” Johnson wrote. “(Her) work continues to support younger generations with love, guidance, and practical tools for existing in human bodies and continues to connect resources to the greater Black, Brown, Indigenous, Asian, and people of color communities.”

As Mokeme’s community mourns her, police continue to work to understand how she died.

Authorities have released no information about how Mokeme was hit and killed nearly a week ago, and there is no word yet on whether investigators have made progress finding her boyfriend, Raymond Lester, or his vehicle, which is believed to have struck her.

Police have said only that the crash occurred sometime between last Saturday night and Sunday morning at the Schoodic Institute in Winter Harbor, where Mokeme’s organization and others were hosting the retreat for Black Mainers over the Juneteenth holiday weekend.

The retreat was in its final days when Mokeme went missing overnight. By Sunday morning, police responded and had started a death investigation. Investigators are looking for Lester, 35, of Portland, with whom Mokeme had been in a relationship for about three years. She had known him for years longer, according to a 2021 Valentine’s Day post on her Facebook page commemorating their relationship on their second anniversary.

Nicole Mokeme and Raymond Lester Facebook photo

Police are looking for a black BMW SUV registered in Lester’s name that may have damage to its front bumper or undercarriage. They have not said Lester was driving the SUV when it struck Mokeme.


Authorities have not said exactly where the crash took place or where Mokeme’s body was found. No account has been provided yet of what happened in the hours and minutes leading up to the crash, or where Lester was and what he was doing around that time.

Police declined to discuss their progress in finding Lester, and would not answer questions about whether he continues to access his bank account, cellphone or other resources that can be electronically traced. They also declined to provide details about the cause and manner of Mokeme’s death.


Lester has a history of domestic violence, court and conviction records show, starting in 2008, when he was charged with domestic violence assault. He pleaded guilty, paid a $300 fine and was sentenced to 22 days in jail, according to a statewide criminal history report.

Two years later, in 2010, Lester was charged again, with domestic violence assault and theft. He pleaded guilty, paid another $300 fine and was sentenced to jail for 45 days.

The second domestic violence arrest came about a month after Lester was served with a protection from abuse order.


In April 2011, Lester was arrested again for violating the protective order, pleaded guilty, and was sentenced to five days in jail. A few months after that, in July 2011, he was charged a third time with domestic violence assault and criminal mischief. The charge was upgraded to a felony because of his prior history, but he pleaded to a misdemeanor and was sentenced to six months in jail.

Between 2012 and 2021, Lester was arrested several times more: for misuse of identification, drug possession, theft, disorderly conduct, refusing to submit to arrest, felony-level receiving stolen property and forgery. His longest sentence was to serve 21 days of a two-year suspended sentence followed by two years probation.

There were also a 2012 conviction for assault, and in 2021 another assault charge in Rockland, but Lester received a deferred disposition, a deal in which prosecutors agreed to dismiss the charge if Lester complied with conditions set out by the court, which typically include not engaging in new criminal conduct.

Only basic information about his arrests, convictions and the protection order were available this week. Court files that may contain details of the arrests had been moved to cold storage and were not immediately accessible.

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