A man from the town of Peru is accused of killing a South Paris couple on New Year's Day.

Public Safety spokesman Steve McCausland says 49-year-old Mark Penley is charged with two counts of murder. He's accused of killing Heather Bickford and Dana Hill, both 31 years old. Their bodies were found at around 8:00 New Year's night in Hill's downtown apartment, after Penley called 911 to report their deaths. Bickford's two young children were also in the apartment when police arrived, but were not harmed in the incident. They were turned over to the Department of Health and Human Services.

According to the Sun Journal, Penley was Bickford's ex-boyfriend, and the two were involved in a custody battle over their daughter. After their 10-year relationship broke up in May of last year, both Bickford and Penley filed for protection orders against each other. Penley has a history of violence, including a conviction connected to a stabbing incident involving his ex-wife. He was sentenced in that 2004 case to a year in jail, with all but 14 days suspended.

Penley was arrested at around 7:30 Thursday night at the Rumford Police Department, where he was being interviewed by detectives. He's currently being held at the Oxford County Jail and will make his first court appearance Friday at the Oxford Courthouse in South Paris.

So far, police have not released a cause of death for the couple. Additional information is expected to be released on Friday.

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