December 3, 2013

Maine man who shot ex-boyfriend wrote of his despair

But Patrick Milliner did not threaten violence before police say he killed Matthew Rairdon, 22, of Westbrook in an ambush.

By David Hench dhench@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

and Gillian Graham ggraham@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

The South Portland man who police say killed his former boyfriend before turning the gun on himself wrote online of his “dark thoughts” in the hours before the murder-suicide.

click image to enlarge

Matthew Rairdon, left, and Patrick Milliner pose together in January.

Facebook photo

click image to enlarge

Patrick Milliner, 30, shot himself in the head after shooting 22-year-old Matthew Rairdon twice early Saturday, said police, who think that Milliner ambushed Rairdon as he returned to his apartment in Westbrook.

The men had an on-again, off-again relationship that ended recently, according to a long letter that Milliner posted on Facebook about four hours before the shooting. Milliner indicated that he was upset about the end of his relationship with Rairdon and about spending Thanksgiving alone.

Rairdon was well known in Westbrook, where he was raised in a family of seven children. He was an emergency room nurse who was credited with saving the life of an elderly patient just days before he was killed.

Milliner, a native of California who worked on marriage equality campaigns in two states, moved to Maine in June.

Police think Milliner shot Rairdon very early Saturday morning, when Rairdon returned home from work at Mercy Hospital in Portland. The bodies were found around 11 a.m. Saturday by Rairdon’s female roommate, whom police have not identified.

The shooting occurred in an apartment at the rear of the house at 318 Main St., in a neighborhood about a half-mile from downtown Westbrook.

Maine State Police continue to investigate what they have deemed a domestic violence homicide. They planned to interview Milliner’s classmates at the Maine Criminal Justice Academy, where he was training to be a state corrections officer, and at Cabela’s in Scarborough, where police say he went Friday and bought the .40-caliber pistol that he used to kill Rairdon and himself.

Milliner would have had to pass a criminal background check to be hired by the Department of Corrections, and would have taken basic corrections training with the department before enrolling in the two-week corrections class at the academy.

Rairdon died of gunshot wounds to the head and chest, according to an autopsy done Sunday by the state Medical Examiner’s Office. Milliner’s autopsy showed that he shot himself in the head.

The bodies were found in the entryway to Rairdon’s apartment. There was no sign that Milliner forced his way into the apartment. Police say they think Milliner, who was dressed in black winter clothes, ambushed Rairdon as he opened the door to his apartment.

“The assumption is he had been there waiting for Rairdon to return home,” said Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety.

The entry to the apartment is a small space accessed through an exterior door, which is at the top of a short, narrow flight of stairs. A woman who answered the door Monday said she was not Rairdon’s roommate and would not comment about the incident.

In addition to Milliner’s final Facebook post, which made no mention of violence, he left a handwritten note in the apartment where the bodies were found, police said. “The two notes appear to be similar in tone,” McCausland said.

LIFE STRUGGLES, ‘DARK THOUGHTS’

One of Milliner’s Facebook friends with access to his private postings provided the Portland Press Herald with a copy of the long, personal narrative that Milliner posted on the site.

Milliner described a lifetime of emotional letdowns that culminated in his spending Thanksgiving alone. “I cannot count the number of days I have struggled in this life and had dark thoughts,” he wrote.

The 1,900-word piece recounts his parents discovering that he was gay when he was young and reacting poorly, which he said led him to leave home early. Later, his mother was supportive, he wrote.

(Continued on page 2)

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