Daniel Bondeson’s suicide note expressed regret and said the deaths were accidental.

PORTLAND (AP) – A lawyer for the estate of a man implicated in the poisonings of 16 churchgoers in northern Maine said he has talked to people who have seen the suspect’s suicide note and believes no one else was involved.

Attorney Alan F. Harding said he hadn’t seen the note left by Daniel Bondeson before Bondeson shot himself but had learned from others that Bondeson indicated the poisonings were intended to settle a grievance.

“Daniel Bondeson expressed regret that the harm had come to the degree that it had. He had intended only, I think his words were, to give them a ‘bellyache’ or a ‘stomachache,”‘ Harding said Friday from his Presque Isle office.

Bondeson also indicated he thought he had used a chemical other than arsenic to poison fellow church members in New Sweden, Harding said. Harding said he didn’t know what chemical was named.

One person died and 15 others were hospitalized after drinking arsenic-tainted coffee at the Gustaf Adolph Lutheran Church on April 27. Two of the 15 remained hospitalized Friday, one in good condition and the other in fair condition.

State Police Lt. Dennis Appleton, the chief investigator in the church poisonings, told The Associated Press earlier this week that he believed two or more people were involved in the poisonings.

“We strongly feel that somebody in that community helped Daniel Bondeson – helped, conspired with, planned to commit this act,” Appleton said. He also suggested that some of Bondeson’s relatives were not cooperating fully in the investigation.

Harding, who is chairman of the state ethics commission and a former assistant district attorney, said it appears there’s nothing in the note to warrant continuing the investigation after Bondeson’s death.

But he said he does not know what additional evidence investigators may have uncovered. “That’s the $64,000 question, if they have any basis for continuing the investigation,” he said in a telephone interview.

He wouldn’t identify the people who told him the contents of Bondeson’s note. Details about the note were first reported Friday in The Boston Globe.

Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety, responded to the lawyer’s comments by saying, “This does not change our investigation in the slightest. We do not think Bondeson acted alone.”

Bondeson, who at one time served on the church’s council, was found fatally shot at his farm house five days after the poisonings. He died later at a hospital, and the death was ruled a suicide.

The contents of the suicide note have not been released by investigators. In Maine, a suicide note is confidential by statute and remains within the jurisdiction of the state medical examiner’s office.

Dr. Margaret Greenwald, the chief medical examiner, has rejected a request by the AP seeking to review the contents of the suicide note under under the Maine Freedom of Access law.

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