The Vermont State Police are investigating an apparent murder-suicide involving the deaths of an estranged husband and wife on Wednesday night in Maidstone, authorities said Thursday morning.
The deceased are Jason and Molly McLain.
Police arrested Jason McLain, 33, in June, charging him with domestic assault against his wife and interfering with emergency services.
After his arrest, Jason McLain was arraigned, released conditionally, and issued a court injunction prohibiting any contact with his wife. Molly McLain, 27, was also awarded sole custody of their two children and their house in Maidstone.
“It’s sadly not uncommon for someone to have either an active or expired court order or conditions of release when they commit another crime or a homicide,” said Sarah Robinson, the special initiatives coordinator for the Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence.
“A court order is one tool that’s used, but it’s an imperfect tool,” Robinson said.
Several of the McLains’ neighbors called 911 on Wednesday night to report the disturbance. Law enforcement officers from the Essex County Sheriff’s Department, the Vermont State Police, the U.S. Border Patrol, and the New Hampshire State Police responded to the scene.
A Vermont State Police news release said callers reported seeing a man with a knife chasing a woman and hearing a gunshot. One caller told the police that a bloodstained man identified as Jason McLain “dropped off his two children at the neighbor’s house” before departing on foot.
It took some time for officers at the scene to locate Molly McLain, but they eventually found her across the road from the McLain residence. The State Police report said she had “sustained apparent serious injuries to her head and torso to include a stab wound.”
An ambulance took Molly McLain to Weeks Medical Center in Lancaster, New Hampshire. Doctors pronounced her dead at the hospital.
Molly McLain’s body has since been taken the chief medical examiner’s office in Concord, New Hampshire, for autopsy. The autopsy will take place there and not in Vermont because she was declared dead in New Hampshire.
Police found Jason McLain in the McLain residence alive but in critical condition from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He was transported first to Weeks Medical Center and then to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. He died Thursday morning.
Robinson, of the anti-violence network, said preventing domestic violence tragedies often takes the involvement of more than just one institution such as the justice system.
“Every time there is a victim of a domestic violence homicide, it represents a failure of our communities to really keep people safe,” Robinson said. “Everything from institutions to neighbors to families — I think it’s really all of our responsibilities.”