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A pastor’s disturbing message to his wife before killing his daughter and himself, police say

 

Daniel Randall, a former pastor who once served as a chaplain in the Air Force, had just completed a 90-day program for alcohol abuse.

He left the Liberty Bay Recovery Center in Portland, Maine, at about 10 a.m. Thursday.

Then, police said, he bought a shotgun and drove to his home in Hebron, about 40 miles northwest of Portland.

Several hours later, a neighbor found the 56-year-old lying face down on the porch of his home. The words “VOW BREAKER” were spray-painted on the kitchen counter, Carroll Daggett, who lives a short distance away, told the Portland Press Herald.

Daggett called police.

Officers then found Randall’s 27-year-old daughter, Claire, dead in the bathroom. She died of multiple shotgun wounds, according to the state medical examiner’s office.

Maine State Police said Daniel Randall, who had been estranged from his family and didn’t have a key to the house, broke in through the garage and shot his daughter before shooting himself once in the head. Police said he spray-painted messages on the walls of the five rooms in the house.

Among them was a message to his wife, Anita, who had filed for divorce.

“Anita, it’s all your fault” was written on one of the walls, according to WCSH 6.

Daggett told the Portland Press Herald that he found Daniel Randall’s body after he went to the house to check on Claire Randall. Anita Randall had asked Daggett to see whether Claire was all right because she wasn’t answering her phone.

When he saw Daniel Randall’s body on the front porch, he initially thought it was a dummy, part of a Halloween display, Daggett told the paper. He called police after realizing that it wasn’t — and then he called Anita Randall. At that point, Daggett didn’t know that Claire Randall’s body was in the bathroom.

“I told her, ‘Claire is not answering, and if you could come home, I suggest you come home,'” he told the paper.

Efforts to reach Daggett by phone were unsuccessful.

Police are investigating where the former pastor and chaplain bought the shotgun.

Daniel Randall lived in Bristol, R.I., with wife Anita, daughters Molly and Claire, and son Gabriel. He was a pastor at the First Congregational Church in Bristol for 12 years before announcing his resignation in December 2014.

“My family; Anita, Molly, Claire and Gabe have shared a wonderful spiritual journey with you for 12 years. You are dear to us all. You are a community of faith that has been on a remarkable and historic path in the last 12 years along with me. This is why my decision is so challenging at this time, but also is flavored with a hopeful and peaceful feeling,” Daniel Randall wrote in a letter announcing his resignation to the congregation.

He also was a chaplain at Roger Williams University in Bristol.

In one of the university’s YouTube videos uploaded in 2011, Randall talked about his job as a chaplain for the school.

“I find working with college-age students very compelling. Every student is different. Everyone has their own story, their own questions, their own hopes. You come to school as a person who’s growing and learning and reaching, and it’s so interesting for me to be a part of that process, to help you grow and learn and reach and discover who you are,” he said.

The Randalls had sold their Bristol home in August and had moved to Maine, according to the Providence Journal.

Daggett described Daniel Randall as a “very pleasant person,” a family man who took charge, according to the Portland Press Herald. But he also said that his new neighbor seemed to show signs of stress, at times struggled to make eye contact and often stopped talking mid-sentence.

Claire Randall was a valedictorian at Mount Hope High School in Bristol, the Providence Journal reported. She earned a bachelor’s degree in music from Wesleyan University and was passionate about domestic violence prevention and substance abuse treatment programs, according to a short biography by Resonant Motion, a New York nonprofit where she was a program associate.

She lived in New York but was staying with her family in Maine for a few weeks, according to the Portland Press Herald.

She also was a vocalist for a band called Trot Fox and an education and training manager for Patron Technology, a software company.

Michelle Paul, her manager at Patron Technology, said Claire Randall’s job was to train newly hired employees. In an email to The Washington Post, she said many will remember her for enthusiasm for her work — and for her ability to look good in anything, even a “bacon-patterned fabric.”

“In the last couple of years, her hair was variously pink, blue and lavender,” Paul said, “and that, too, somehow seemed totally natural and complete professional on Claire.”

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A woman was held hostage, officials say. So she sent her daughter to school with an SOS note.

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