By Glenn Adams, Associated Press

DEXTER, Maine (AP) — A father angry over being denied access to his children and legally barred from seeing them went to their home Monday morning and killed them, his estranged wife and then himself.

Investigators can’t say for sure what pushed Steven Lake over the edge, Maine State Police Maj. Gary Wright said, but a relative told The Associated Press that Lake was frustrated by an ongoing custody dispute and particularly upset at having to miss his son’s eighth-grade graduation.

Lake, 37, shot and killed 38-year-old schoolteacher Amy Lake and their two children, 12-year-old Monica and 13-year-old Cote, with a shotgun before killing himself Monday morning, Wright said. Police also found a flammable liquid poured around the inside of the house, but it wasn’t ignited.

A Dexter police officer went to check on Amy Lake at 8 a.m. Monday at her tidy two-story red clapboard home on the north shore of Lake Wassookeag when she didn’t show up for work at the Ridge View Community School and when Steven Lake’s car was spotted in her driveway. The officer heard multiple gunshots after pulling into the driveway and called for help.

State and local police and deputies from several sheriff departments surrounded the house and attempted to contact those inside by phone and through a public address system. Police never made contact with those inside, but didn’t know for sure whether people were alive inside the house.

Around 2 p.m., a state police armored vehicle with a battering ram moved in on the house, and officers discovered the bodies in the living room. Some of the victims had been shot multiple times, according to the state medical examiner’s office.

Steven Lake was awaiting trial for allegedly holding his family hostage last year in Wellington, where he most recently lived, Wright said. He was free on bail but was barred from contacting his family.

Wright said investigators “may never ever know” what pushed Lake over the edge.

Mylon Lake, of Harmony, told the AP that Steven Lake was his nephew and had been angry over a child custody dispute. Steven and Amy Lake at one time had shared custody, but Steven had recently lost his right to see the children and was particularly upset about the graduation ceremony, he said.

“You push buttons enough, and everything’s going to come to a head,” he said.

Steven Lake at one time owned his own heating company in Harmony, but most recently worked for another company, Mylon Lake said. Monica and Cote Lake attended school where their mother taught.

Neighbor Phil Kreider said local police officers had been checking on Amy Lake every day because she had a restraining order on her husband.

“I can’t imagine anything like this happening here, and here it is,” Kreider said.

A person who answered the phone at home of Amy Lake’s parents said the family had no comment.

Dexter, with a population of nearly 3,800, was known for years as the home of Dexter Shoe Co., which Harold Alfond created out of a vacant woolen mill in the 1950s. Dexter ceased its operations in Maine about a decade ago, and the shoes are now made overseas.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Comments (16)
  1. Willow says:

    It’s difficult to even comment on a story such as this without wanting to just sit and cry. What good does a restraining order do? It’s just a piece of paper that means nothing to the person who has finally lost his senses. It’s bad enough he shot and killed his wife, but for children to die at the hands of the ones who supposedly love them is more then I will ever understand.

    1. Sad2Read says:

      People ask me why I own a gun… for this very reason, there are a lot of crazy people in this world and I want to be able to protect myself and my family at any cost. Could she have saved herself and her children had she had a gun…? Who knows, but I’ll be she would have had a better chance. So sad to read a story like this.

  2. bljo says:

    The cops arrive at 8 am and hear gunshots, but they don’t attempt to enter the house until 2 pm??? What did they do for 6 hours? Call them on a bull-horn? Can you spell i-n-v-e-s-t-g-a-t-i-o-n?

    1. jaygee says:

      Absolutely correct. It’s beyond reason to understand why nothing was done for 6 long hours. Where did they get the “armored vehicle” from, perhaps Vermont? Sounds to me like a 2 man police force and an incompetent one at that.

    2. rlx says:

      yeah so how about my partner and I run blindly into a house after hearing gunshots and say whats up? Let the man take down an officer too before he blows his brains out? SMART.

      1. sad says:

        What about an officer putting his life on the line for the protection of those he serves? I would hope that officers would do what it took to help protect the innocent even if it meant risking their own life. Knowing that 2 children were in danger and they chose not to do anything other than wait around for an armored vehicle to show up show me that they didn’t have the courage to do what it took to save those kids lives. This should have never happened in the first place though. He already held his family hostage and was able to walk around free?

      2. marty says:

        rix – Who said anything about running blindly into a house? Its first a call for backup and then a planned forced entry. There is risk yes, but this is also part of the job they signed up for.

      3. Vlizzle says:

        It is the job of police officers to enter the house after hearing gunshots and not sit on their butts for 6 hours your moron.

      4. Cinque says:

        We’re talking 6 hours, which is enough time to fly to London and don’t give me this “my partner & I bs, look in the mirror and repeat, I am not a cop!

  3. CITIZEN says:


  4. jmore says:

    no one may ever know what pushed him over the edge?!?!?!?

    let me tell you- because it’s pretty obvious!
    The legal system that’s biased against fathers, that’s what pushed him over the edge- massachusetts is even worse- no rights for fathers- none at all.
    He couldn’t get any help from the legal system, and his wife was making things worse by keeping him away from his kids- I’d flip out also

    1. J says:

      I couldn’t agree with you more about the court system being biased. But it does state in the article that he had held the family hostage last year. I’m sure the court didn’t look to kindly on that when he went in for his custody hearing.

      1. timberriault says:

        The judicial system does it again .they kill more children a year than 9-11 Do to there politcal seats . We as a nation most stop these uneducated judges from making any decsions.BUT you cannot say anything as a father , or they will lock you up.As they kill are children we must take it.

  5. Denise says:

    well obviously she had a reason to have a restraining order! The man was a psycho! if his grudge was w/ his wife then he should have shot her and left the kids alone – he should have sent them out of the house! Sad Story!

    And JMore I agree w/ you – I know someone(who has since passed) that went to the Worcester Family Court to get custody of his girls because the mother hangs around w/ a pedophile – the women in the court said if the peodophile hadn’t done anything yet… there was nothing they could do – when he does come back! I know because I was standing there! Just because the kids are w/ the mother doesn’t mean they are w/ the right parent!

  6. response says:

    Key words here “He was free on bail”…..that says it all.
    For Shame….if he was still in jail, this would not have happened.

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