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'I Deserve Worse': Recently Released Maine Convict Back in Prison for Killing Parents, Their Friends

Recently Released Convict Sentenced for Killing Parents, Their Friends
Source: Maine Department of Corrections; Unsplash

Joseph Eaton pleaded guilty to all charges and was sentenced to life in prison, authorities said.

Jul. 9 2024, Published 10:03 a.m. ET

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A man from Maine who had only been released from prison for days has been sentenced for killing his parents and two of their friends and then shooting at random cars on the highway, according to authorities.

On the morning of April 18, 2023, officers responded to a home in Bowdoin and found 62-year-old Cynthia Eaton, 66-year-old David Eaton and their friends, 72-year-old Robert Eger and 62-year-old Patricia Eger, dead from gunshot wounds, WCMH reported.

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About an hour later, police started getting reports from Yarmouth, about 20 miles south of Bowdoin, of gunfire, according to WCMH.

Officers said the suspect, identified as Joseph Eaton, 35, started firing at cars on the highway, thinking police were following him, WCMH reported.

Three people, Sean Halsey, 51, and his two children, Justin Halsey, 29, and Paige Halsey, 25, were shot in the Yarmouth shootings and have been hospitalized, officials said.

WCMH spoke with Ian Halsey, who said the victims were his uncle and two cousins. He noted one of the cousins is in critical condition and the uncle was hit by shrapnel. None of them knew Eaton, he said.

“They were just passersby in the wrong place at the wrong time,” he explained, adding, “It’s horrible what happened.”

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Eaton has been charged with four counts of murder and was charged with attempted murder in the highway shootings, officials said.

He was released on April 14, 2023, from the correctional center in Windham, where he was being held after being sentenced on probation violation in March 2021, Anna Black, director of governmental affairs for the Maine Department of Corrections, told WCMH.


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Court records show Eaton has been charged with more than a half dozen crimes over the last decade, including assault and aggravated assault. He has served time in Kansas, Florida and Maine, WCMH reported.

His criminal history should have prevented him from legally possessing a gun in Maine, officials said. The origins and ownership of the firearms used in these shootings were unclear and police have not said what weapon was used.

A video believed to have been posted to Facebook on April 17, 2023, by Eaton shows the man criticizing “Christian” people who don’t give others a second chance.

“What good does it do to hate somebody? You know, it destroys you,” the tearful man said, WCMH reported.

Moss said investigators are aware of the video and it is part of the investigation.

On July 1, 2024, Eaton pleaded guilty to all of the charges against him, WMTW reported. Eaton's lawyer, Andrew Wright, said Eaton chose to plead guilty to take responsibility, believing it was the “reasonable and moral” thing to do.

A judge then sentenced Eaton to the maximum penalty for each charge, including life sentences for each of the murders. During sentencing, the judge said, "I find myself without words to put these events into context."

Eaton also addressed the court during his sentencing, saying, “I wake up every day regretting what I did. I honestly think I deserve more (regarding his life sentence). All I can say is, I’m sorry."


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