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

Maine State Police have charged a 35-year-old Portland man with murder in the hit-and-run death of his girlfriend at Acadia National Park a little more than a week ago.

Investigators are still looking for Raymond Lester, who they say was behind the wheel of his 2016 BMW X3 when it struck and killed Nicole Mokeme at the Schoodic Institute in Winter Harbor. The arrest warrant was issued last week by a judge in Ellsworth but was not announced until Monday, and the affidavit of probable cause has been ordered impounded, Maine State Police spokeswoman Shannon Moss said.

Police say they are searching nationwide for Lester, but declined to offer any information about the search or their progress.

“We do not want Ray Lester to know what we know,” Moss said.

Mokeme, a longtime activist, organizer and leader in the Black community, was killed at a retreat for Black Mainers she organized over the Juneteenth holiday week. The event offered outdoor excursions and deep rest at the picturesque campus, which is part of Acadia National Park. Mokeme hosted the event through her organization, Rise and Shine Youth Retreat, founded in 2013.

Mokeme and Lester had been dating for about three years, according to a Facebook post Mokeme made last Valentine’s day commemorating their two-year anniversary.


An undated photo of Raymond Lester and the vehicle he is suspected of driving when he allegedly killed Nicole Mokeme at Acadia National Park this month. The 2016 Black BMW X3 SUV has a Maine license plate 5614WM. The vehicle may have front-end or undercarriage damage. Photo provided by Maine State Police

Police have released no details about what may have happened between Lester and Mokeme in the hours and minutes before she was struck. Investigators believe she died sometime between the evening of June 18 and the early morning hours of June 19.

Police also have not said exactly where the death occurred, how Mokeme’s body was found and by whom, or what led police to charge Lester in her killing.

Mokeme founded Rise and Shine originally to help Black girls access and enjoy the outdoors, but the organization has expanded its scope in recent years to serve all Black, Indigenous and people of color in Maine, and frequently collaborated with other organizations, some of which she also helped found.

Mokeme’s family will hold a church service on Friday at Cathedral Church of St. Luke on State Street at noon, followed at 3 p.m. by a public memorial and homegoing service at Deering Oaks park.

Supporters and friends of Mokeme and her family have raised more than $46,000 to pay for her funeral costs and to help support Mokeme’s 11-year-old daughter.

Lester has a history of domestic violence dating back more than a decade, according to court and conviction records.


He was first charged with domestic violence assault in 2008 by Portland police. 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, 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.

Only basic information about his arrests, convictions and the protection order was available Monday. Court files that may contain details of the arrests had been moved to cold storage and were not available from the Cumberland County Unified Criminal Court on Monday.

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 of probation.

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

Police say he is driving the 2016 BMW SUV with Maine license plate 5614WM. The vehicle may have damage to its front-end and undercarriage.

Police asked anyone with information about Lester’s whereabouts to call the state police dispatch center in Bangor at 207-973-3700.

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