Middlesex Co. sheriff found dead of apparent suicide
WELLS, Maine -- Middlesex County Sheriff James DiPaola has committed suicide in Wells, Maine, according to police.
Hotel staff discovered the body of DiPaola in a room at the Ledgeview Inn around 12:30 p.m. Saturday.
“The room was locked, dead bolted from the inside. Balcony door was locked. It was on the second story,” said Wells Police Sgt. Kent Berden. “There was no indication that he had been there with anyone else in the room at all.”
Police said DiPaola checked into the room around 7 p.m. Friday. When he missed checkout, employees checked the room.
“The manager unlocked the door and viewed him on the bed,” said Berden.
DiPaola, 57, died of a single gunshot wound to the head. Police found his department-issued semi-automatic pistol in his room. His department car was found in front of the inn. Detectives said there were very few items found in the room: a driver’s license, a laptop and multi-page letter addressed to his family.
“This is especially difficult. I think it’s very shocking to people in this department,” said Berden. “I’ve spoken to a number of the officers in this department who are very, very shocked.”
Guests at the hotel told people they never heard anything.
Wells police said it’s unclear if there were any connections between DiPaola and the town of Wells. They have no indication that he’d ever visited the inn in the past.
DiPaola, who served as sheriff of Middlesex County for the past 14 years and had won re-election in November, recently announced he would resign after having second thoughts about receiving his pension while still in office.
DiPaola had found a loophole that would have allowed him to get an annual retirement pension of $98,500 while still receiving his sheriff's pay of $123,000 next year.
While the scheme was legal on paper, DiPaola had an apparent crisis of conscience. He said he didn't want what he called "double dipping" to be his legacy.
Governor Deval Patrick released a statement about the sheriff's suicide, stating, "This is a shocking and tragic event. I extend my deepest condolences to the DiPaola family and to the Sheriff's staff, all of whom are certainly reeling with this news. Sheriff DiPaola had a 30-year record of public service. Tonight we honor that service and pray for his family."
"I am deeply saddened by the death of Sheriff DiPaola, with whom I had the chance to serve in the House of Representatives," said House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo in a statement. "My thoughts and prayers go out to his family."
The Middlesex Sheriff’s Office issued a statement saying, "The Middlesex Sheriffs Office is sad to confirm the sudden death of Sheriff James V. DiPaola.
“At this time we ask that the family’s privacy be respected during this difficult time.
"Operations at the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office will continue under the direction of Special Sheriff John Granara."
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