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Poisoning suspect's death ruled suicide

Authorities: 'Important information' left in suicide note

Daniel Bondeson, pictured here, worked at a nursing home and on his family's potato farm.
Daniel Bondeson, pictured here, worked at a nursing home and on his family's potato farm.

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Police believe that the prime suspect in the Maine church poisoning case might have had at least one accomplice.
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Police in New Sweden, Maine, are looking at a parishioner in an arsenic poisoning case at a church.
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NEW SWEDEN, Maine (CNN) -- The principal suspect in the arsenic poisonings here left behind a suicide note containing "important information" that requires further investigation into the plot that sickened more than a dozen churchgoers and killed one, authorities said Tuesday.

Authorities did not elaborate on the contents of the note from Daniel Bondeson, 53, who died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest Friday night after being rushed to a hospital. The state medical examiner's office ruled the death a suicide Tuesday.

Steve McCausland, a spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety, confirmed that a note was found in Bondeson's home.

"Investigators say that 'based upon important information contained in that note, we will be continuing our investigation into the poisoning homicide in New Sweden,'" McCausland said.

He said investigators met to discuss the case with representatives of the state attorney general's office, the state police crime laboratory and the chief medical examiner's office.

The poisonings have sent shock waves through this tight-knit community of about 600 in northern Maine. A 78-year-old caretaker of Gustaf Adolph Lutheran Church died, and 15 church members were sickened, three of them critically, after drinking arsenic-laced coffee at the church April 27.

Bondeson attended a bake sale the day before, but authorities have said he was not in the church that Sunday.

Soon after Bondeson's death, authorities said they believed he was linked to the poisonings -- possibly motivated by a church dispute -- and that he might not have acted alone.

"I'm not prepared to say that he acted alone or that he was the person who introduced [the arsenic] into the coffee," Lt. Dennis Appleton of the state police said at a news conference Monday.

Carefully choosing his responses to reporters' questions, Appleton would not comment on any specifics of the investigation or other suspects in the case.

"We never discuss suspects. We just feel we shouldn't stop [with Bondeson]," Appleton said.

He said "church dynamics" might have triggered the poisoning, but he would not elaborate specifically.

"It probably was something that was grinding at some people for some time," Appleton said. "In the end, we may find they don't seem like logical explanations for murder."

It took "some tugging and pulling" to get information from parishioners, Appleton said.

"Perhaps they weren't as candid at first as they could have been," Appleton said. When authorities questioned parishioners, "It was, 'can you tell us anything?' And the answer was no. You go back to them and ask a specific question, and it's, 'OK, I'll tell you about that.' I think they just wanted to be asked specific questions."

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