The afternoon of July 26, 2014 was reportedly nothing special or out of the ordinary for the Smith family of 5. They were barbequeing outside their complex at Riverview apartments in beautiful Saco, Maine. No one knew hours later that they would all be gone – dead, and that the threat was to come from within their own family.
Joel Smith, 33 and his wife, Heather 36 moved to Maine from Phoenix Arizona just 2-3 years before, after a vacation to visit Joel’s father. Joel was the Superintendent of the Riverview complex and helped with other complexes owned by Phoenix Management. Heather was a Medical Assistant at Portland Gastroentrology. They had 3 children, Jason who was 12 was from a previous relationship of Heather’s, Noah 7 and Lily, 4.
There is no indication what precipitated the violence in Unit B201, however, there are reports that Joel was angry that his wife stayed outside talking to neighbors until 10:30 pm. Police believe that Joel stopped first in Jason’s bedroom around 11:30 pm and shot the boys each in their own rooms while they slept, before continuing on to the Master bedroom and shooting Heather and Lily who were asleep in the bed. The children were each shot twice. Heather and Joel both were shot once in the head. The weapon was a 12 gauge shotgun loaded with birdshot and slugs.
Family members discussed that the family was having issues with drinking and addiction, as well as financial problems. Additionally, Joel had sought medical help for issues with panic, anxiety in depression four separate times in the 9 months before the killings. A report indicated that Joel had stopped taking the antidepressant Zoloft after losing his insurance.
The extended family members reported that Heather had spent time in a rehab to detox off opiates but there were no signs of any illegal drugs in the home at the time of the murders, and her autopsy report indicated only a therapeutic level of hydrocodone in her system along with a blood alcohol level of .23. Joel did not appear to be inebriated at the time of the killings as his toxicology showed no alcohol or drugs in his system.
Heather shared with a family member that about a week before the murder, Joel has threatened to commit suicide due to depression. Her sister in law discussed that Heather felt controlled and there were calls where she expressed fear to family members but there were no police calls or records for domestic violence. No neighbors reported any signs of any violence in the home.
Heather is laid to rest in Phoenix, AZ with the children.