A grieving family have been left reeling by the loss of a “wonderful, strong, tough mom” who was killed earlier this year in what they suspect was a murder-suicide that saw her two young sons left alone in the house with their mother’s body for a day.
Massachusetts-based Jennifer Lingard, 40, was found beaten and strangled to death in a locked bedroom at the family’s holiday home in Lovell, Maine, in February 2022 but her cause of death was only publicly confirmed as a homicide by Maine State Police last month.
The man she was dating at the time, Sami-Joe Michael Daou, 33, who had gone with her and the little boys to the lakeside retreat, was found a day later at his home in Rhode Island – dead from a drugs overdose, having driven over 300 miles in Jennifer’s car to get there.
Though police are continuing to investigate what happened, Jennifer’s sister Michaela-Ann Lingard Hanson, 37, feels sure the “disgustingly muscly” man she knew as Sam – and had been wary of from the outset, after Jennifer met him online – was responsible for the brutal killing.
“I think Sam killed her because she was finally going to break up with him,” she said. “Police have told me he was found with Jennifer’s stolen car and her phone.”
Michaela now has legal custody of both her sister’s children – Liam, nine, and Kellen, five – who have been orphaned by their mother’s killing, following the earlier loss of their firefighter father in November 2020.
Michaela said: “I’ve promised those boys that we will always talk about their mommy. I don’t want them to ever forget. They have their whole life ahead of them without her.”
Prior to her murder, the Lingard’s say they had little reason to worry about “tough” Jennifer.
As a teenager, she had trained to a black belt level in karate before joining the United States Marine Corps for seven years.
Once she left the military, she retrained as a nurse alongside Michaela, with their mum, Sheree Lingard, 64, working as their boss on a hospital maternity ward.
When Jennifer’s common law husband passed away through natural causes, she and her sons moved in with Michaela who says: “We were the best of friends.
“We lived together for a while, travelled together, worked together. I was there for the birth of her kids, helped her to name them.”
She continued: “Jenny was tough. Always had been. She really could hold her own.
“She was funny too. Hysterical even. She was always very witty, very sarcastic and knew how to deliver a line I’d never get away with.”
However, the family claim things started to change when Jennifer began dating a man she met online in May 2021.
Jennifer’s loved ones say they only knew the man, Sami-Joe Michael Daou, as ‘Michael Sam’. They were unaware of his full real name and say that background checks, that they paid for after Jennifer’s death on an online website, showed he had a criminal history, including the possession and distribution of child pornography and assault.
Even without this shocking information, Michaela was wary of her sister’s new partner.
“When we met, he really rubbed me, my mom and my husband up the wrong way.
“He got very drunk at Kellen’s birthday party and some of the things he said was totally inappropriate.
“I didn’t like him immediately. He was disgustingly muscly and not Jenny’s type at all.” Michaela said.
The pair’s brother, First Lieutenant in the Marine Corps Tyler David Lingard, 34, was also concerned, explaining: “I told Jen I didn’t care for (Sami) when I met him.
“He just came off as false, very cocky.
“I said to Jen ‘What’s going on? You’re not taking this guy seriously, are you?’ but she told me not to worry.
“I just wish I’d done more.”
Despite her family’s concerns, Jennifer continued the relationship with Sami, who was a gym obsessive and seven years her junior, and began looking at buying a home with him.
Her family are unaware if she knew of his criminal history.
However, Michaela claims it was around this time bruises were spotted on Jennifer’s arm but that she “blew us off” and began covering up in jumpers.
“I didn’t think (Sami) was a threat. I just thought he was immature and a loser. He’d call her constantly and she told me he read her messages, but I didn’t want to push Jenny towards him so just left her to figure it out on her own.”
She continued: “I thought Jenny was being stupid. Now I suspect she was being controlled,” Michaela said.
The last time Michaela spoke to her sister, she was surprised to hear she was taking Sami on a break to their family holiday home in Maine, a lakeside property their mum, Sheree, and her late husband had built when their three children were young.
On the day Jennifer and her sons were due home, February 24, 2022, Michaela received a strange text message at 2pm from Jennifer’s phone with a thumbs up icon then a message reading ‘Michaela’s always running your mouth. LOL.’
Michaela is now sure Jennifer would never send a message like this and is convinced it was sent by Sami and Jennifer was already dead.
Concerned that they could not reach Jennifer on her phone – when she normally responded quickly and was always very responsible – Michaela called the police and they performed a welfare check on the Maine holiday house in the early hours of February 25.
Michaela said of the moment police came to her door to tell her her sister was dead: “I was hysterical. I dropped to the floor. I was just screaming.
“I just kept saying ‘What about the boys? What about the boys?’.”
Mercifully, Jennifer’s sons had been found unharmed in the property, having slept through their mother’s killing and had cared for each other since waking on the morning of the day before.
Police launched a manhunt for Sami who was found a day later at his home, dead from a drugs overdose, having driven from Maine back to Rhode Island.
Michaela said: “It took six months for us to have homicide confirmed as Jenny’s cause of death. Our whole family knew she was killed. She was found beaten and strangled wrapped in a sheet on the bed with a pillow over her head.
“Then her boyfriend miraculously goes missing in her vehicle.”
She continued: “I think Sam killed her because she was finally going to break up with him.”
While police continue to investigate, Michaela is now raising Liam and Kellen alongside her own son Travis, 10 months. Friends, family and kind strangers have donated over £40,000 to support the family.
Michaela says: “The boys were alone for over 24 hours with their mother locked in a room dead. They thought she was sleeping. They went outside and saw the car was gone. They didn’t even have her phone. They couldn’t call for help. They were stranded. It’s just awful.
“I now just have to support them in any way I can. They’re such wonderful, beautiful boys. Real spitfires just like their mom.”
The family now wants to warn other women to be careful when online dating.
Michaela said: “Please do a background check on anyone you’re dating. If you have their name, check everything. If nothing comes up, you know they’re lying about their name.
“Check addresses, past relationships, birth records, anything you can. In the United States, everyone has some sort of public record you can pay for online.
“Even if you’re not in the US, look up everyone you’re dating online. Find out all you can about them.
“What happened to Jenny is all the worst fears about online dating come to life. I met my husband online. I’m not against online dating. But this is the nightmare scenario you see on TV and it happened to our family.”
Her family will never move on from what has happened, she said.
“People think we’re moving on. But we’re not, we’re standing still. We’ve not just lost Jenny, we’ve lost so much. I’ve lost my sister… and the ability to be the mom I wanted to be to my own son in his first year of life.
“He was just four months old when Jenny died. I’ve had to leave him with people while I talk to police, deal with things. I won’t get any of that time back. The impact just keeps going on and on.
“We have to be strong for Jenny’s boys but we will never move on.”
An official statement by Maine State Police said: “Deputies arrived to find Jennifer deceased inside the home with her two young children who were unharmed.
“Maine State Police Detectives worked with the Newport, Rhode Island Police to locate and speak with 33-year-old Sami Daou of Newport, Rhode Island who was vacationing with Lingard and her children in Maine. Lingard and Daou were in a relationship at the time.
“On Saturday, February 26, 2022, Daou was found deceased inside his Rhode Island home. The Rhode Island medical examiner determined that Daou died as a result of a drug overdose.
“After recently receiving toxicology results, Deputy Chief Medical Examiner Liam Funte ruled her death a homicide. The Maine State Police continue to investigate the circumstances surrounding Lingard’s death.”
To support the Lingard’s GoFundMe for Jennifer’s children, visit – https://www.gofundme.com/f/support-for-liam-kellen