Joseph Eaton enters the West Bath District Court on April 20. Eaton, 34, has now been indicted on 16 charges related to the deaths of his parents and their two friends in April. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

A Sagadahoc County Grand Jury indicted Joseph Eaton on four murder charges Friday, two months after he allegedly shot his parents and two of their friends in a Bowdoin home. The indictment reveals details about a hoard of guns police believe he stole from the home.

Eaton, 34, who had completed a five-year prison sentence just days before allegedly shooting David and Cynthia Eaton and Robert and Patti Eger on April 17, faces 16 charges stemming from their deaths. In addition to murder, the grand jury charged him with nine counts of theft of a firearm, being a felon in possession of a firearm, theft and aggravated cruelty to an animal.

Friday’s indictment pieces together the first new information about the case in weeks, particularly about how Eaton had access to weapons – a subject investigators have refused to discuss.

According to the document, Eaton stole eight guns belonging to Robert Eger – seven pistols and one rifle. He is also accused of stealing one .38 caliber pistol belonging to Cynthia Eaton. The indictment does not say what gun or guns police believe he used in the shootings.

Eaton also allegedly stole credit cards and between $1,000 and $10,000 in cash and checks from the Egers, according to the indictment.

His court-appointed lawyer, Andrew Wright, said the case was still in its early stages and the defense team was still working to determine the best path forward.


“Every citizen deserves the presumption of innocence that our great constitution and legal system guarantees,” he said.  “We would ask everyone to not pre-judge Joe and let the case work through the system to see what happens. No matter what did or did not happen, this case is absolutely a tragedy.”

A spokesperson for the Maine Office of the Attorney General, which is prosecuting the case, did not respond to a request for comment on the indictment Friday.

Eaton, who has not yet entered a plea, is being held at Two Bridges Regional Jail in Wiscasset without bail. He is scheduled to appear in court on June 28.

David and Cynthia Eaton, left, and friends Patti and Bob Eger were found dead in the Egar’s home in Bowdoin on April 18. Contributed photos

He had been staying with the Egers in Bowdoin after his parents picked him up from the Maine Correctional Center in Windham on April 14, police said at a news conference after the shootings.

On the morning of April 18, Patti Eger’s sister Lisa Shea arrived at the Bowdoin home to find blood, broken glass and “bullet holes everywhere,” according to a police affidavit. She found a body in the kitchen, and several guns – suggesting the house originally contained more than the nine weapons Eaton allegedly stole.

Police found Bob and Patti Eger and Cynthia Eaton shot to death inside the house. David Eaton’s body was outside near a barn. Eaton is also accused of killing the Egers’ dog, a goldendoodle named Max, according to the affidavit.


An unsigned note at the scene stated the writer had been molested and “wanted a new life,” echoing statements a distraught Joseph Eaton had made in a video he posted to Facebook the day before the shootings.

As a convicted felon, Eaton was prohibited from having access to firearms. But court records indicate that guns were an important part of his father’s life. In 2013, Eaton was granted parole and hoped to live with his parents in Florida, but he was unable to move in with them because David Eaton refused to give up his guns.

The shootings, which were among the deadliest in local memory, immediately sparked debates about Maine’s gun laws. Cumberland County District Attorney Jackie Sartoris described high levels of gun violence as a uniquely American problem and called for reform, while Maine’s ranking Republicans said the state’s existing laws should have prevented Eaton from accessing a weapon.

Despite Democratic majorities in both chambers of the Legislature, efforts to enact stricter gun control measures have fizzled out in recent weeks. Both the Maine Senate and House voted down a bill that would have instituted a 72-hour waiting period for gun purchases – a policy more than 72% of Mainers support, according to a recent poll.

Eaton is also facing 11 charges in Cumberland County, where he’s accused of shooting several people on Interstate 295 in Yarmouth. He eventually surrendered after allegedly firing at several cars and wounding three people: Sean Halsey, 51, and his two adult children, Justin, 29, and Paige Halsey, 26. Police said Eaton confused the passing cars for pursuing police cruisers.

All three highway shooting victims are expected to recover.

A grand jury indictment handed down in that case last week includes several counts of attempted murder with a firearm and aggravated attempted murder, which carry a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

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