The term Purrington Murders derives from the name of the perpetrator, one Captain James Scales Purrington (also known as Purinton and Purrinton), who until that day had been a respected citizen and a big part of life in small town Maine. Captain Purrington had moved his family to the Ballard neighborhood, a quiet suburb of Augusta, in August of 1805. Over the intervening months, the family settled into small town life, made friends and integrated themselves into the neighborhood.
The seeming ease with which Captain Purrington ingratiated himself to the neighbors and settled into Augusta life made what happened next all the more shocking. It was July 9, 1806 when the Ballard neighborhood was shocked by the senseless murder of not only Mrs. Elizabeth Purrington but her six children as well, the youngest being only 18 months (Louisa Purrington). Captain James Purrington murdered almost his entire family with both an axe and razor in their farm on the Old Belgrade Road. The fact that the murderer was their own husband and father was all the more shocking, as was the fact that Capital Purrington took his own life soon after murdering his family.
One of the Purrington children, a young girl named Martha, was able to survive her initial injuries, but she succumbed three weeks later. In the end, only one family member, a son named James, would survive the tragedy. James Purrington was able to escape during the killing spree, and he emerged with only minor injuries.