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Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: She was afraid he was leaving her for another woman
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: July 22, 2012
Date of arrest: August 15, 2012 (she shot herself in the face but the wound was not fatal)
Date of birth: 1987
Victim profile: Norman Benner Jr., 34 (her boyfriend)
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: Waldoboro, Lincoln County, Maine, USA
Status: Sentenced to 35 years in prison on July 25, 2013

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Waldoboro woman sentenced to 35 years for July 2012 murder of boyfriend

By Beth Brogan -

July 26, 2013

WISCASSET, Maine — Just before Arline Lawless was sentenced Friday to 35 years in prison, the mother of her victim, Norman Benner Jr., said she knew Lawless was evil from the first day she met her. And she said that when Lawless is released, “she’s going to kill again.”

Lawless, 26, of Waldoboro was sentenced Friday in Lincoln County Superior Court for the July 2012 murder of her boyfriend, 34-year-old Norman Benner, also of Waldoboro. Lawless shot Benner in the back of the head at the Friendship Road home where they were staying — only days after Benner told his mother he planned to break up with Lawless.

Lawless, also known as Arline Seavey, told detectives after the murder that she shot Benner because she feared he would leave her for another woman. She pleaded guilty in June to fatally shooting him.

Dozens of friends and family members, some openly crying and many wearing pins with Benner’s photograph, listened on Friday as Dawn Benner, along with two aunts and Benner’s sister Kimberly Simmons, told of the “horrific nightmare” they have experienced since his murder a year ago. A statement by Benner’s father, Norman Benner Sr., was read to the courtroom because he was too emotional to deliver it in person.

A slideshow of photos of Benner as an infant, a child and a smiling adult fishing and camping with family members played in the background as Dawn Benner told of the day after the murder, when she and her daughter found Benner shot to death and Lawless lying beside him, suffering from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

“It was like being in a horror movie,” she said. “I had to see my son lying there. I saw her rise up and I said, ‘Run Kimmy.’ We had her children in the car and I didn’t want her to kill them too.”

Focusing on Lawless, Dawn Benner said, “I knew when I met her she was evil … 35 years is nowhere near enough. She’s going to be out when she’s in her 50s. That’s scary. She’s going to kill again.”

Kimberly Simmons said her brother was “the sweetest, most compassionate man, and that’s what did him in … the last way I saw him laying there dead next to her — she didn’t even give him a blanket.”

As Benner’s family spoke, Lawless sat silently in navy blue prison scrubs, rocking slightly in her chair between defense attorneys Philip Cohen and Jeremy Pratt, and frequently mouthing inaudible words to herself.

Asked by Justice Jeffrey Hjelm if she had anything to say before sentencing, Lawless uttered a quiet “no.”

Hjelm said he would impose the 35-year sentence agreed to by defense attorneys and Assistant Attorney General Deborah Cashman, who prosecuted the case, in exchange for Lawless’ guilty plea. But Cashman said he considered circumstances, including that the murder was an act of domestic violence, which he said was “the overarching theme of this case.”

The state’s “pretty strong case” indicated that “Miss Lawless made the decision that if she couldn’t have [Benner], nobody could,” Hjelm said.

He said evidence — as well as the crowd in the courtroom on Friday — indicated that Benner “was a good person, a good man,” and did nothing to provoke Lawless’ actions.

Lawless planned the murder, he said, and shot Benner in the back of the head, “probably as he was sleeping,” which Hjelm said was “a profoundly cowardly act.”

But he also said Lawless “does have mental health issues,” likely because of a brain injury suffered as a child.

Lawless initially entered a plea of not criminally responsible by reason of insanity, but was evaluated and found capable of standing trial. While acknowledging her “mental health issues,” Hjelm said Friday that Lawless did finally plead guilty and he accepted that plea.

After the sentencing, family members and friends — several wearing T-shirts with Benner’s photo beneath the words “Gone But Not Forgotten” — walked from the courtroom, hugging and murmuring their dissatisfaction at the sentence.

“Thirty-five years. The sentence they give is 35 years,” Dawn Benner said. “I don’t understand. You kill somebody as they sleep and you get 35 years. She needs to just get life. It’s crazy.”


Waldoboro woman pleads guilty to killing boyfriend over impending break-up

By Abigail Curtis -

June 26, 2013

ROCKLAND, Maine — Arline Lawless chewed gum steadily and spoke in monosyllables as she pleaded guilty Wednesday morning at Knox County Superior Court to last summer’s shooting death of her boyfriend, 34-year-old Norman Benner of Waldoboro.

She killed him while he was sleeping because she was afraid he was leaving her for another woman then shot herself in the face, according to evidence presented Wednesday during the plea hearing held in a nearly empty Rockland courthouse. She stayed in the bedroom with Benner’s body for at least a day until they were discovered by family members.

Lawless, 25, also of Waldoboro, stood in shackles and listened impassively as Assistant Attorney General Deborah Cashman outlined the case the state of Maine would have presented if the matter had gone to trial.

Instead, in exchange for her guilty plea to the charge of intentional or knowing murder, the Maine attorney general’s office and Lawless’s court-appointed defense attorneys are jointly recommending to Justice Jeffrey Hjelm that she be sentenced to 35 years in prison. She has been incarcerated at Two Bridges Regional Jail in Wiscasset.

“Have you decided to enter a guilty plea to this charge because in your judgement, you are in fact actually guilty of this crime?” Hjelm asked her at the end of the hearing.

“Yes,” she responded in a clear voice.

Lawless and Benner had been dating for about four months when the lobster sternman told his mother, Dawn Benner, that Lawless was “so clingy, she’d wake up in the middle of the night and ask him if he was going to leave her,” Cashman told the judge during the hearing.

Benner, who lived with his family, tried to break up with Lawless on Friday, July 20, but that led to a big fight, Cashman said. The next day, he went to the house on Friendship Road in Waldoboro where Lawless was staying with Jeremy McPhee, to try again to break up with her.

He told his mother he’d be done in about an hour. But when Benner did not come home that night or the next day, his mother, father and sister began to worry. They drove to McPhee’s house on Monday and found Benner shot to death in Lawless’s room, Cashman said.

His mother and his sister, Kimberly Simmons, saw Lawless lying still and injured in the same bedroom.

“Arline raised her head, which frightened them,” Cashman said. “They believed she was deceased. They ran from the bedroom.”

His mother, sister and McPhee, who was home but said he did not know about the shootings, sought help from officials. Later that day, they received a phone call from Lawless and Dawn Benner spoke briefly to the woman.

“Arline said she did kill her son … because he was going to leave her,” Cashman said. “Dawn asked if she understood she had destroyed their lives. She said yes.”

In the courtroom, Dawn Benner, Norman Benner, Sr., and Simmons wore pins with photos of Norman Benner and tried to comfort each other while Cashman described his death, and its aftermath.

They listened as Cashman said that in a trial, McPhee would have been called to the stand to talk about how he had not given Lawless permission to use his guns, one of which was the murder weapon. They shook their heads in disbelief when they heard how Lawless initially told police investigators that she knew that Norman Benner had died but she did not know how, and that Lawless had wanted to kill herself because she was so angry.

They heard how the wounded Lawless walked around the bedroom at times between midnight Saturday, when the couple had returned home from a party at a campground and gone to bed, and Monday morning when his body was discovered.

“She told detectives that at some point she felt panic after she shot Norman, and that is why she shot herself,” Cashman said. “She made no efforts to call 911.”

After the plea hearing was finished, Benner’s family members said that justice had not been served. His mother, Dawn, said that the words that rang in the courtroom — including faith, justice and equality — were all lies.

“There’s no satisfaction at all. That’s not justice, to let murderers out walking the streets in 32 years,” she said, figuring her son’s girlfriend will get time off for good behavior.

“What about Normy? What did he face when he had a gun to his head? We as families and victims, we have no rights at all. It’s not justice at all. It makes you so angry.”

They described their son as a good man, who was quick to laugh, who loved life and who would do anything for anyone. He enjoyed camping, fishing, being outside and loved his mother’s macaroni salad.

“He tried to leave,” Dawn Benner said of her son’s relationship with Lawless. “I know he just wanted to get out of there.”

Lawless, who last September entered a plea of not criminally responsible by reason of insanity in Lincoln County Superior Court, was evaluated and found capable of standing trial, according to Hjelm. Lead defense attorney Philip Cohen said that there was no question in his mind of his client’s capacity, and Hjelm said that he was satisfied she is of sound mind and “entirely lucid.”

Her sentencing hearing will be scheduled for either July 25 or July 26 at Lincoln County Superior Court in Wiscasset.


Waldoboro woman accused of killing boyfriend pleads not guilty by reason of insanity

By Christopher Cousins -

September 27, 2012

WISCASSET, Maine — Arline Lawless, who is accused of shooting her former boyfriend to death in Waldoboro, entered a plea of not criminally responsible by reason of insanity Thursday in Lincoln County Superior Court.

The plea from Lawless came during her arraignment hearing, during which she was described the murder charge against her, according to documents at the court. The documents also showed that earlier this month, the court issued an order for Lawless to undergo a mental evaluation with the State Forensic Service.

Lawless, 25, who also goes by the name Arline Seavey, is accused of killing her boyfriend, 34-year-old Norman Benner, in July in Waldoboro. Police affidavits claim that Lawless fatally shot Benner in the head over the weekend of July 22, while he slept. Lawless then shot herself and the couple was not discovered until Monday, July 23, by one of Benner’s family members.

Lawless and Benner lived at the address where the shooting took place, 2177 Friendship Road, which is owned by a third person who was not involved in the shooting, according to investigators.

Lawless allegedly told two state police investigators and a member of Benner’s family that she shot him because he planned to break off their relationship. Lawless was arrested on Aug. 15 and charged with intentional or knowing murder as she was leaving Spring Harbor Treatment Center in Westbrook.

In a case involving a plea of not criminally responsible by reason of insanity, typically the trial proceeds as normal until an innocent or guilty verdict is found. If the defendant is guilty, the trial then enters a second phase in which the jury must decide whether the defendant was legally insane at the time of the crime. People found not guilty by reason of insanity are typically committed to a state psychiatric hospital for an undetermined amount of time rather than being sentenced to prison.

A status hearing in the murder case involving Lawless is scheduled for Dec. 27, but according to a superior court clerk, the case is not expected to go to trial for several months.

Lawless also was charged with assault earlier this year for an incident that happened in July. On Thursday, she pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct in that case, for which she was sentenced to five days in jail. She is being held at Two Bridges Regional Jail in Wiscasset.


Police Affidavit Describes Seavey's Confession in Waldoboro Homicide

By Shlomit Auciello -

August 17, 2012

The Waldoboro woman arrested Wednesday for the murder of her former boyfriend allegedly told Maine State Police detectives she shot Norman Benner in his sleep, last month, after he told her he planned to leave her.

Arline Seavey, also known as Arline Lawless, made her first court appearance in Lincoln County Superior Court Friday.

Seavey is charged with shooting 34-year-old Norman Benner of Waldoboro at the home the couple lived in at 2177 Friendship Rd. in Waldoboro. Seavey suffered a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the face and has been treated for that injury since July 23, when Benner's body was discovered by his relatives inside the home.

According to an affidavit filed in support of the arrest warrant. Aug. 7, Det. Abbe Chabot and Det. Corey Pike separately interviewed Seavey and were both told the same story.

In a July 23 interview at Maine Medical Center, Seavey told Pike she shot Benner one time because he was going to leave her. Chabot wrote in her affidavit that Seavey told Pike she shot herself five times, after shooting Benner.

Chabot's affidavit states that Seavey repeated that narrative when Chabot interviewed her the following day.

Benner and Seavey lived together, rent-free, on the ground floor of the house where the shooting took place. The house is owned Jeremy McPhee, who also lives at the single-family home.

The body of Norman Benner was discovered in his bed by his sister, Kimberly Benner and reported in a 911 call to Lincoln County Communications Center. Waldoboro Police Officer Jeffrey Fuller responded to the report, finding Benner deceased and Seavey "incoherent and injured next to Norman Benner," according to the affidavit.

As Fuller was leaving the dwelling, he observed McPhee walking toward the residence. McPhee was questioned by Maine State Police Detective Adam Kelley and told the detective that he heard snoring coming from Benner and Seavey's bedroom at approximately 7:30 p.m. on July 21, the affidavit said.

The 25-year-old Seavey was transported for medical treatment and arrested as she was being discharged from the Spring Harbor treatment center in Westbrook.

According to the affidavit, Kimberly Benner and her mother, Dawn Benner, told Maine State Police Det. Ryan Brockway that Seavey had sent Norman Benner a series of text messages, saying she was afraid of McPhee "because he was acting oddly."

The affidavit states that the Benner family thought Seavey did this in an attempt to get him to come to the house at 2177 Friendship Rd. to see her. Dawn and Kimberly Benner told Brockway that Norman Benner had planned to tell Seavey on July 21 that he was leaving her, and that he planned to return to his family's home after that conversation.

Seavey was transported to the Cumberland County Jail in Portland, where she is now being held.


Waldoboro woman allegedly told police she shot boyfriend over impending break-up

By Christopher Cousins -

August 16, 2012

WISCASSET, Maine — The Waldoboro woman accused of killing her boyfriend in July told investigators she shot him because she feared he was leaving her for another woman, according to a police affidavit filed in Lincoln County Superior Court.

Arline Lawless, who is also known as Arline Seavey, 25, is charged with murder and is scheduled to appear Friday in Lincoln County Superior Court in Wiscasset. Though police have referred to the woman as Arline Seavey, she is identified as Arline Lawless in court documents.

Lawless was arrested Wednesday as she was being discharged from Spring Harbor treatment center in Westbrook. According to an affidavit written by Maine State Police Detective Abbe A. Chabot, Lawless shot her boyfriend, Norman Benner, 34, of Waldoboro, in the back of the head while he was sleeping. Approximately five minutes later, she shot herself in the face but the wound was not fatal.

Benner and Lawless were discovered by Benner’s sister on the morning of Monday, July 23, at 2177 Friendship Road in Waldoboro, where the couple had been staying since May with the homeowner, 23-year-old Jeremy McPhee.

It is unclear exactly when the shooting took place, though police have said it was sometime over that weekend.

Waldoboro Police Officer Jeffrey Fuller, responding to a 911 call from Benner’s sister, found Benner dead in a downstairs bedroom and Lawless nearby, injured and incoherent. Lawless was taken to Maine Medical Center in Portland. The state medical examiner’s office told police later that day that Benner died of a close-contact gunshot wound to the head.

McPhee, the homeowner, who arrived at the residence Monday as police began investigating the crime, told them he had last seen Benner and Lawless on Saturday, July 21, at the residence, and had heard what he thought was snoring coming from their bedroom at about 7:30 p.m. that day.

Benner’s mother and sister told police that Lawless had sent him a series of text messages Saturday, claiming that she was scared of McPhee “because he was acting oddly” and that Benner should return home.

Benner’s relatives said they believed Lawless contrived the story to make Benner return home, and also that Benner had stated to them that he intended to break off the relationship with Lawless.

According to the affidavit, Lawless was interviewed by Maine State Police Detective Corey Pike on July 23, at Maine Medical Center. She allegedly told Pike she shot Benner because he was going to leave her and that she had used a gun she had found in the home that belonged to McPhee.

Lawless made a similar statement to Detective Chabot during a second interview on July 24. Chabot wrote in an affidavit that Lawless called Benner’s mother on July 25 and again said she had shot Benner because he was going to leave her.

According to court documents, Lawless, who has a 7-year-old child, is a tattoo artist in the Waldoboro area who recently had an address on Park Street in Rockland. Her court-appointed attorney is Philip Cohen of Waldoboro.

Lawless also faces an assault charge in a separate case. The documents indicate she allegedly assaulted a woman in Waldoboro on May 9, and pleaded not guilty to that charge on June. 13.


Man planned to break up with girlfriend before fatal Waldoboro shooting

Arline Lawless remains hospitalized in fair condition from gunshot wound to face

By Leslie Bridgers -

July 25, 2012

WALDOBORO -- Norman Benner had told his mother he wanted to break up with Arline Lawless, his girlfriend of four months, before a shooting last weekend that killed him and left her wounded.

The couple were the only people involved in the shooting, Department of Public Safety spokesman Steve McCausland said Tuesday, but he wouldn't say whether Benner, 34, or Lawless, 25 -- or both -- fired shots.

McCausland said Lawless was treated for a gunshot wound on her face at Maine Medical Center in Portland, where she was in fair condition Tuesday.

Dawn Benner said she and her daughter found her son's dead body and Lawless, who looked pale and wounded, on Monday morning in the bedroom of the house on Friendship Road, or Route 220, where Lawless had been living since May and where her son often slept.

She said her son lived with her and his father, whose name is also Norman Benner, in their house on the Friendship side of Route 220, called Waldoboro Road.

Dawn Benner said she dropped her son off at Lawless's house on Saturday afternoon, and he said he would be calling in an hour for a ride back to his parents' house. She never heard from him that night, and he didn't return his parents' calls on Sunday or Monday.

She and her daughter went to Lawless's house Monday morning to check on him. She said they asked Lawless's roommate where her son was, and he said he had tried to wake him up but couldn't.

Police have said the house is owned by Jeremy McPhee, who also lived there. State police Sgt. Jeff Love said Tuesday that McPhee was home at the time of the shooting.

Police said they believe the shooting happened during the weekend, but won't be more specific. They said they need to continue investigating the circumstances before releasing any more information.

Love said police have had limited communication with Lawless. McCausland said they were waiting for her condition to improve before speaking with her again.

Police roped off the house with crime scene tape Tuesday while they searched inside. Outside, a recliner sat overturned on the overgrown lawn, and a black pickup truck was parked by the side of the building.

Leanne Young, an employee at Flipper's Market, down Route 220 toward Friendship, said Benner was a frequent customer. He would often come in with his father and sometimes with Lawless, though it wasn't apparent to Young whether they were dating or just friends.

"He was always very polite when he was in here," said Young.

Bubba Thompson, a friend of the Benners, said the younger Norman Benner -- known as Normie -- was a hardworking fisherman.

Benner's parents said he started working as a clam-digger even before he graduated from Medomak Valley High School in 1996, and also worked as a sternman on lobster boats.

They said he loved to eat the fruits of his labor.

"He couldn't get enough of them," Norman Benner said of his son's love of clams.

He had hauled lobsters Saturday morning, cooked them and brought them to Lawless's house that afternoon, his mother said.

The Benners said their son got along with everyone, and was particularly good with children, including Lawless's 8-year-old son.

"He was just too nice," Dawn Benner said.


Police say one of the victims in Waldoboro shooting was also shooter

By Christopher Cousins -

July 24, 2012

WALDOBORO, Maine — Detectives returned with a search warrant to a home at 2177 Friendship Road on Tuesday morning, which was the scene of a deadly shooting over the weekend.

One man died and his girlfriend was recovering from a gunshot wound to the face Tuesday.

Maine Department of Public Safety spokesman Stephen McCausland said Tuesday that investigators believe one of the two victims was the shooter. No one has been arrested or charged in connection with the shooting, which was reported about 9:30 a.m. Monday.

“There was no one else involved in the shooting,” McCausland said.

McCausland said other than the search of the home, investigators are counting on an interview with the surviving shooting victim, 25-year-old Arlene Lawless, who is at Maine Medical Center in Portland. Lawless had not yet been able to talk with investigators by midday Tuesday, McCausland said.

Norman P. Benner, 34, of Waldoboro was found dead in the home by his family members Monday morning. He and Lawless, who also was found Monday, rented the home and lived there with its owner. McCausland said investigators believe the shooting happened sometime over the weekend and that no one other than Benner and Lawless, who were dating, was involved.

Authorities said Monday that they expect Lawless to survive her injuries.

Police have interviewed homeowner Jeremy McPhee, who lived there with the two victims but was not home over the weekend, McCausland said. McPhee is not a suspect, he said.

McCausland said the autopsy of Benner’s body was under way, but that no results were expected Tuesday. State police are working with Waldoboro police and Lincoln County sheriff’s departments to investigate the circumstances surrounding the incident.



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