At about 7:30pm on the evening of April 18, 2020, Lisa Banfield and her partner GW had an argument. It began during, and continued after, a video chat with a close female friend of the couple who lived in Houlton, Maine.
Angel Patterson owns a hair salon in the northern town, across the international border from Woodstock, New Brunswick.
During the FacetTime call, Banfield announced she and her partner — who were that night marking their 19th anniversary — planned to have “a commitment ceremony” the following year. Patterson’s immediate comments seemed to throw cold water on the plan, and Banfield would later suggest to police the ensuing argument in her partner’s man-cave (known as the warehouse) was the first in a horrific chain of events that included 22 murders and multiple fires which are now the subject of a public inquiry by the Mass Casualty Commission.
Angel (short for Angelette) Patterson was interviewed on May 20, 2020 by RCMP Staff-Sgt. Dave Legge about that April 18 conversation, as well as the possibility a mutual friend may have been used by the killer to procure illegal guns. During a news conference very early in the investigation, the RCMP indicated they were looking at information the murderer may have used a GM car dealership in Houlton to smuggle guns into Canada.
Patterson told Legge she was unable to recall many details of the video chat with Lisa and her partner. “We had cocktails and then more cocktails,” she said. “I was with my niece and her husband. I remember the conversation was light, we were laughing. I said something like, ‘why you gotta get married like that?’ And I don’t remember the words, but I said something like, ‘Run, you got to run!’ And Lisa was kinda upset with me saying that and I was like, ‘I’m just kidding. It’s up to you guys if you want to get hitched’. And Gabriel said something along the lines of, ‘she’s just kidding, Lisa.’ But Lisa wouldn’t look at me or talk to me and I knew she was upset, and I felt bad.”
Patterson said she sent texts telling Banfield she “would be there for her” but never got a reply. She told Legge she felt guilty her careless remark may have sparked the rampage that night. “So I keep thinking in my head, did I start that argument? Who the hell knows and I hope to hell not.”
We do know from Banfield’s statements to police that following the argument, she left the warehouse and went back to the cottage. Then she returned to the warehouse to make up with her partner, but found him “in a complete rage,” blaming her for ruining their anniversary.
Banfield returned to the cottage and up to bed alone, but her partner soon arrived and assaulted her. He poured gasoline inside the house before dragging her back to the warehouse where he handcuffed one of her wrists, and then placed her inside the back of the replica RCMP vehicle. Somehow, Banfield managed to escape.
The other Houlton connection
Aside from the argument, the main reason Patterson has been interviewed by both the RCMP and the FBI is because of her friendship with a man named Sean Conlogue.
Patterson met Conlogue at the Elks Lodge in Houlton about 15 years ago. Conlogue is a fixture there and the volunteer cook for the annual Fourth of July barbecue. He’s been a GM car salesman in Maine for 30 years.
Patterson estimated Conlogue introduced her to GW (and later Banfield) about seven years before the murders. She couldn’t recall if they met at the Elks Club, their regular watering hole, or at Conlogue s home, where he likes to entertain and where GW and Banfield would often stay overnight on their trips to Maine.
GW often referred to Conlogue as “his family” (they knew GW was estranged from his own). The three or four of them “hung out and socialized.”
Patterson said that when news of the murders and the killer’s death broke on April 19, 2020 she and Conlogue were “in shock,” trying to understand how a man with whom they had spent so much time could be the same person who committed such atrocities.
According to the transcript of Patterson’s interview with Legge, it was a few days later when she was at Conlogue’s home that he went upstairs to check his gun cases. She said Conlogue told her two semi-automatic handguns were missing. They both recalled GW’s last visit to Houlton had been a little more than a month earlier before COVID closed down the border.
Who helped the killer obtain the murder weapons?
According to a search warrant obtained by the RCMP (which the Halifax Examiner and other news organizations spent a great deal of money going to court to make public), the RCMP believe one of the handguns used in the mass murder previously belonged to Sean Conlogue. The name is blacked out in the search warrant ITO (Information To Obtain) but the contents are a match with information Angel Patterson supplied to the RCMP in her May 20, 2020 interview.
Here is what search warrant (IT0711) said about the weapons:
There were several firearms located in the vehicle being operated by [GW] at the Irving Big Stop on April 19,2020 and some of those firearms have been traced to owners in the United States. Sgt Larry Peyton, an RCMP officer with the National Weapons Team believes some of the firearms were smuggled into Canada and one of the firearms had previously been in the possession of [name redacted], a close friend of [GW] who resides in the United States.
Statements obtained from Lisa Banfield, common-law partner to [GW], describe him as a collector of motorcycles, police equipment, and firearms purchased in both the United States and Canada. Of particular interest is a person known to her as [name redacted] in the United States, whom she believes to have purchased guns for [GW].
Patterson denied any and all knowledge of guns, saying she tuned out whenever talk turned to guns “because I had no interest in them. Guys here talk about them a lot because they collect them, for whatever reason.”
At one point in the interview with the RCMP officer, Patterson asked how it is possible for someone to smuggle illegal weapons across the border. She recalled her Canadian drinking buddy being “meticulous” about filling out the Border Services paperwork for the frequent purchases he made over the Internet. She said these purchases would arrive in boxes to Conlogue’s home address in Houlton, and GW would pick them up and drive them across the border when he came to visit.
Patterson said no one else was permitted to open the boxes and she figured they were related to his hobbies as a collector of motorcycles and police equipment.
“The boxes were put to the side. Nobody ever opened those boxes except [GW]. And I remember one time he came over, he opened up this stupid motorcycle outfit. Some boots he got to ride this dirt bike…”
Patterson said she never ever saw GW with a gun. But after the murders, she recalled seeing something else at Conlogue’s house.
“I remember seeing the light bar on that cop car,” Patterson told Legge, the RCMP interviewer. “For some reason, it was out of its box. So he must have opened it. He (GW) must have been here to do that. Did he take it back, then? Probably.”
The light bar Patterson was talking about is a match for the laser-sighting tool on the replica police car that Andrew MacDonald noticed, just before the shooter fired a bullet into his arm as he was driving on the Portapique Beach Road the night of April 18.
The hair salon owner said both she and Conlogue are “in shock” over the discovery someone they considered a close friend could perpetrate such violence. “It’s sad and you feel bad about feeling bad,” she said, trying to explain her conflicted emotions. “Obviously the families are first and foremost and you feel wrong because he hurt so many people, but you still mourn the loss of a friend.”
Neither Patterson nor Conlogue had seen any signs of such behaviour in all the years they had known GW. In fact, in 2018, Banfield had invited Conlogue, Patterson, and Patterson’s friend Scott Shaffer (who Patterson calls her fiancé or “common-law” because she doesn’t believe in marriage) to their summer home in Portapique. It was late June and GW’s birthday; the Maine friends were to be “the surprise.”
Patterson remembered the party took place in the warehouse where GW kept his motorbikes, a bar, a loft apartment, and a life-sized stuffed bear. There was a DJ and dancing, and she said the couple was holding hands and looking happy.
Patterson said the only time she got a hint Lisa Banfield may have been the victim of intimate partner violence prior to April 18, 2020 was during a conversation the two women had about relationships several years previous.
“She told me one time that he had put his hands on her,” Patterson told Legge. “And I said, ‘well, why are you still there?’ And she said, ‘because I love him.’ And I said, ‘if he’s hurting you that’s not any reason to stay.’ And Lisa’s like, ‘all relationships have their ups and downs.’”
Patterson thought the reason Banfield didn’t disclose anything more is because she knew how Patterson would have reacted. “Like, I’m the type of person that would have got in his face, and I know damn well Sean would have.”
It’s interesting to speculate about what role alcohol may have played in the violence that led to so much grief for dozens of families. Looking back over the perpetrator’s life, alcohol appears to have been a factor in the beating of his father at a Cuban resort.
Banfield described her partner as an alcoholic to RCMP investigators after the shootings.
Neighbour Richard Ellison told investigators about an incident years previously in Portapique, “over drinks” at the cottage with Banfield, GW, and GW’s uncle Glynn. Ellison said the denturist accused his uncle Glynn of “ trying to get into Lisa’s pants.” Ellison said the uncle was terrified and that was the first time Ellison saw his neighbour’s “dark side.” Asked if he recalled how that evening ended, Ellison was evasive.
“Well somebody told me he was choking Lisa on the lawn later on that day or night. See Gabriel gets off on watching people get drunk. He’d give you the booze, too, and then watch you drink and laugh at you. Or he’d throw nails out on the road to see if you’d get a flat tire. That’s the kind of guy he was,” said Ellison.
Brenda Forbes, another Portapique Beach Road neighbour of the couple, said Glynn Wortman told her about the same incident. In an interview for the Halifax Examiner with journalist Joan Baxter in May 2020, after Forbes and her husband had moved away from Portapique, Forbes didn’t hesitate to express her feelings.
“Glynn was scared to death….but the other two guys (Richard Ellison and his son Corrie), that is what pissed me off. They stood there and watched him do it (choke her) because he gave them booze. Like it was horrifying. So when Glynn let me know all of this, I called the RCMP.” Forbes said the uncle refused to give a statement because he feared his nephew would kill him.
In Houlton, Patterson recalled an occasion when an alcohol-fuelled evening led to GW “feeling her butt” and upsetting Banfield to the point where the party was soon over and the couple went back to Canada the next day.
And there is another detail Patterson provided the interviewer that offers insight. She told Legge she “found it odd” her Canadian friend showed her a badge “that looked just like his [Legge’s]”. When she asked why he had a police badge, GW told her, ‘Oh, I can get discounts when I stay at hotels.’ I was like, ‘Really? You need a discount? You make a shit ton of money!’”
Sean Conlogue has not been charged with any criminal offence.
Conlogue may have been an unwitting player in the procurement of illegal weapons used in the mass killings. For example, the Bangor Daily News reported the killer used a high-powered rifle purchased from a Houlton Gun show in 2019. The law did not allow the Dartmouth denturist to purchase the gun directly from the gun show, but information from a RCMP search warrant says he bought it through a private sale from someone whose name is redacted from the document.
The killer did not have a firearms certificate for any of his weapons.
Patterson said Conlogue and GW met more than 20 years before in Fredericton. They had one close friend in common — a disgraced Fredericton lawyer named Tom Evans. Evans was an alcoholic who took GW, a lonely university student at the time, under his wing, and showed him how to make money smuggling cigarettes and booze across the U.S. border.
Patterson said that when Evans died at age 60, Conlogue scattered his ashes in Maine. Banfield and GW were supposed to attend but didn’t make it.
GW inherited the two rental properties in Fredericton he had been managing for Evans. The money he made from selling those properties helped finance the luxurious summer home and warehouse he built in Portapique before he burned it all down and went on a murderous spree.
This article has been updated with more examples of the use of alcohol.
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