WILTON — Conservative columnist and financial adviser Lawrence E. Dwight Jr., known as J Dwight, 54, was found dead in his home on Orchard Drive on Monday.
According to a Wilton Police Department press release, his body was found by his wife, Adrienne Neary, shortly before 1 p.m.
According to Mark Belserene, administrator of the Maine Medical Examiner's Office, Dwight died of a gunshot wound to the chest. Based on an autopsy Tuesday morning, his death has been ruled a suicide.
Dwight owned a .45-caliber semi-automatic handgun, which police say was the weapon used in the shooting.
According to police, Neary was in a nearby horse barn and never heard the shot. Wilton Police Chief Heidi Wilcox said that when Neary returned to the house, she called 911 for help after finding Dwight on the floor.
Dwight did not leave a suicide note, Wilcox said.
Two detectives from the Major Crimes Division of the Maine State Police assisted Wilton police at the Dwight residence, known as Ridgewood Farm.
A former columnist for the Sun Journal and current columnist for The Maine Wire, Dwight wrote about wind power, global warming, energy independence, state government and finance, among other things.
A Securities and Exchange Commission-registered investment adviser in sole practice since 2006, Dwight was founder and president of Dwight Investment Counsel and served on the board of advisers of the Maine Heritage Policy Center.
"J was a dear friend of MHPC, to our organization, and to all of us personally," said Lance Dutson, chief executive officer of the Maine Heritage Policy Center.
"He was a champion for liberty and prosperity in our state, and his work over the years has helped make Maine a better place for all of us," Dutson said. "We will miss him terribly."
According to the SEC, Dwight Investment Counsel manages 102 accounts, with an estimated $47 million in assets, and advises between 26 and 100 clients.
Dwight was a staunch opponent of industrial wind power in Maine’s mountains. He served on the Wilton Finance Committee and was active in the Wilton Republican and Franklin County Republican committees.
Dwight and Neary own Ridgewood Farm, a 23-acre horse farm that is listed for sale at $619,900. Described as a premiere equestrian facility, the farm features a large family home, an equestrian facility and an 18-stall barn.
A self-described bird enthusiast who led birding trips since the age of 14, according to his business website, Dwight was a former president of the Rachel Carson Natural Wildlife Preserve, former board member of Maine Audubon Society and former president of Kennebunk Land Trust.
According to Linda Woodard, director of the Scarborough Marsh Audubon Center, Dwight was active in the state's annual Christmas bird count and owl monitoring for Maine Audubon and the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.
Sen. Tom Saviello, R-Wilton, said Tuesday, "J was my very dear friend. We often sat around debating politics; we debated life and sometimes just drank coffee. He was an asset to the community and he brought conservative values to the community, which needed to be heard."
Saviello added, "He loved bird watching. He was passionate about it and extremely talented at it."
Saviello said that when he was going through conflict, J stood by him. "This is terrible," Saviello said. "He's going to be missed. I miss him already."
In 2003, Dwight was part of the nonprofit grassroots Rural Broadband Initiative that was awarded a $7,500 grant from the Maine Community Foundation to conduct a survey of Franklin County businesses and residents to quantify the market for what RBI members believed was much-needed broadband service.
State Rep. Russell Black, R-Wilton, said he had known J for years.
"I considered him a friend," Black said. "He served on the Wilton Budget Committee. He was very conservative, very intelligent. He knew the ins and outs of finance and investments. He was an asset when it came to the budget process."
Black, who owns Black Acres Farm, said Dwight and Neary bought hay there for their horses. "I thought a lot of him," Black said.
A former member of the legislative Consensus Economic Forecasting Commission, Dwight was arrested in July 2011 on a charge of domestic assault. Dwight resigned his position on the commission after his arrest; the criminal charge was dismissed a month later.
The governor’s office declined to comment on Dwight’s death.