Daniel Randall allegedly gunned down his 27-year-old daughter and then turned the gun on himself after the pastor found out that his wife was planning to divorce him.
The murder-suicide came more than two decades after Daniel Randall’s first wife died under mysterious conditions.
The pair were found dead in the small town of Hebron, Maine, this week, with police saying it appeared to be a final act of anger from the former church leader. The Oxford Hills Sun Journal reported that Claire Randall’s body was found in the bathroom of the home she shared with her mother with several gunshot wounds. Daniel Randall was also found dead of a single gunshot to the head, police noted.
The killing reportedly came after Daniel Randall learned that his wife, Anita Randall, was planning to divorce him. Daniel had reportedly been served with papers earlier in the week.
Neighbors also told the Portland Press Herald that Daniel Randall had spray-painted the words “VOW BREAKER” on the family’s kitchen counter.
The couple had reportedly been estranged for some time before the killing. The Portland Press-Herald reported that Daniel Randall had been at the Liberty Bay Recovery Center in Portland for a substance-abuse program, and after completing the 90-day program he left the center and bought a shotgun before traveling to the family home.
Though Randall did not have a key to the home, he reportedly broke in through the garage door and spray-painted messages to his wife in all five rooms of the home. Another note reportedly read, “Anita, it’s all your fault.”
The murder of Claire Randall came two decades after Daniel Randall’s first wife died under mysterious conditions. As the Oxford Hills Sun-Journal noted, a church newsletter revealed that Greta Randall died in 1994.
“According to that newsletter, Randall began his ministry in Windsor, Wisconsin, with Greta and their two daughters, Claire and Molly. He moved to the Saco church in February 1993 and served there until July 1994, leaving after his wife died.
“According to the Saco church’s newsletter, ‘Greta Randall died after suffering injuries in a fall at Two Lights State Park in Cape Elizabeth on July 3.’ She was six months pregnant at the time, and the child — Lucas Barron Randall — died a day later.”
The report did not offer any further details on Greta Randall’s death, and it does not appear that authorities suspected foul play in her death.
Before the murder-suicide, Daniel Randall had a reputation as a popular church leader. He served as a chaplain in the U.S. Air Force Reserves and was called to active duty in 2002, and later that year was named pastor at the First Congregational Church in Bristol, Rhode Island.
He served there until 2014 before leaving, the Sun-Journal noted. In a farewell message, Randall thanked congregants for sharing in what he called a “wonderful spiritual journey” with him and his family, the report added.
Randall did not give a reason for his resignation but may have hinted at some personal troubles.
“This is why my decision is so challenging at this time, but also is flavored with a hopeful and peaceful feeling,” he wrote in a farewell letter.
Neighbors said they saw some worrying signs in Daniel Randall. Caroll Daggett, himself an Army veteran, said Randall appeared to show signs of stress or possibly post-traumatic stress disorder.
However, there was no indication that Randall was capable of such violence, Daggett told the Portland Press-Herald.
“He seemed to be a very pleasant person,” Daggett said of Randall, who had lived in the neighborhood since the summer. “A sort of take-charge, family-type person.”
The family of Daniel Randall said they would not comment publicly on the murder-suicide.
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