Peru woman described as ‘polite, sweet and thankful’

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PERU — Paula Nuttall was remembered Monday by community members as “polite and thankful” and as a “very sweet woman.”

Nuttall, 57, was found dead Saturday morning in the kitchen of the home she shared with four other family members.

Maine State Police spokesman Stephen McCausland said Nuttall’s son-in-law, Paul Orchard, was arrested Sunday night on a murder charge after being discharged from Rumford Hospital.

Virginia Campbell, who lives down the street from Nuttall, said “she didn’t know her as well as some people,” but found her to be “a very sweet woman.”

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“We have a food pantry down at the old Peru Elementary School, and for a while she was coming to the pantry,” Campbell said. “I used to volunteer at the pantry quite often, and every time that I spoke with her, she was very nice. Someone would bring her down to the pantry, and I would help her out anyway that I could. Whenever she left, she’d give me a hug.”

“She was just a nice woman,” Campbell continued. “Based on my experiences with her, I couldn’t say a bad thing about her.”

Campbell’s husband, Skip, agreed, saying he would sometimes drive Nuttall back from the food pantry when she needed a ride.

Carol Bernard, who owns and runs Mrs. B’s Country Store, said she felt like “a chicken without its head” after Nuttall’s death.

“I would talk to people on the phone and tell them, ‘It’s emotionally draining,’” Bernard said. “I remember that Paula used to come to the store a little more often. She was legally blind, and her vision started getting worse and worse to the point where she couldn’t come over as much. Whenever she came over and had to sign something, I remember that she would lean over really close to the counter to see what she was signing.

“She’d always look at me before leaving and say, ‘Thank you so much, honey,’” Bernard said. “It was never, ‘Thank you, Mrs. B,’ or ‘Thank you, ma’am.’ It was always ‘honey.’ She was such a sweet woman when she came in.”

In the hours following Nuttall’s death, Bernard said she heard that “a lot of people were scared.”

“No one knew what was going on at first, so people who were home alone, or home with their children, thought there was someone randomly going around and attacking people,” Bernard said. “Right now, the word I’m hearing people throw around is ‘surreal.’ This whole thing is surreal.”

Bernard said she hopes people “pray for the people involved, whether it’s the family, the friends or the first responders.”

“No matter what happens, when tragedy happens, there can’t be blame thrown around,” Bernard said. “We can only hope that when things like this happen, the community will come together to help and support each other.”

Bernard said, “I talked to David, Paula’s son, the other day, and I told him, ‘Just take it one day at a time, David. One day at a time.’”

mdaigle@sunjournal.com

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