ASHLAND — Kimberly Mironovas moved to Maine last year, determined to transform her life.
She sold her condo in Ashland in August and moved more than 180 miles away to Litchfield, where she enrolled in a nearby cosmetology school.
But the fresh start was short-lived. After midnight Sunday, authorities allege, her 15-year-old son, Lukas, and another teenager from Ashland, William S. Smith, 15, snuck into her bedroom and choked her. Lukas Mironovas then stabbed his mother in the neck, according to prosecutors.
A third boy, 13-year-old Thomas Severance, of Ashland, is accused of helping to plan the killing.
While police in Maine have not publicly disclosed an alleged motive, the crime has left people in Litchfield and Ashland struggling to understand how teens who are too young to drive could be accused of such a vicious crime. It appears two of them experienced turbulence in their early years.
“It’s unfathomable,” said Gayle Donnell, who lives near Smith in an Ashland condominium development where the teenager took out her trash, carried her groceries, and helped her decorate for Christmas. “I’m still blown away by it.”
The day before she was killed, Kimberly Mironovas, 47, was cutting hair for walk-in customers at Aveda Institute Maine in Augusta when she got an urgent call about her son, Lukas, according to Anthony Coco, the owner of the school.
The teenager had built an illegal bonfire at her home in
Litchfield, and Mironovas, a former interior designer, had to rush home early, he said.
“I know she was afraid of him,” Coco said Tuesday. “She wouldn’t talk about him that much but when he did come up, she sounded scared.”
The same day that Mironovas was called away from the salon because of the bonfire, authorities allege, her son, Smith, and Severance hatched a plot to kill her, according to court papers filed in Maine.
The boys initially planned to spike her drink with a fatal dose of crushed prescription pills, prosecutors wrote, but abandoned the plan after they tried diluting the powder in wine and found that residue remained visible in the glass.
The teenagers instead decided to strangle and stab her, prosecutors said. Authorities allege Lukas Mironovas carried a knife and donned a mask and gloves during the attack. Smith wore gloves, they said.
Mironovas and Smith were charged with murder. Severance was charged with conspiracy. All three appeared in a Maine courtroom on Monday and are being held.
Smith and Severance are currently students in the Ashland public schools system, Ashland schools Superintendent Jim Adams confirmed in an e-mail. Lukas Mironovas was an Ashland student up until the 2009-10 school year, Adams said in his e-mail.
Lukas Mironovas and Smith had been together in Ashland as recently as April 15, said Donnell, Smith’s neighbor.
That day, Donnell said, she drove Smith and another friend to the commuter rail station in downtown Framingham to pick up Lukas Mironovas, who had traveled to Massachusetts from Maine. Donnell said it was her first time meeting the teen.
“They were talking about video games and stuff like that. Nothing particular stuck out in mind. He just looked like a normal 15-year-old,” she said. “The last thing [Lukas Mironovas] said to me was, ‘Thank you so much for the ride.’ I mean what kind of kid who has manners like that does such a thing?”
The boys said they were staying in Ashland for a few days and then Smith planned to travel to Maine with Lukas Mironovas, Donnell said.
During the car ride back to Ashland, Donnell said, Mironovas asked about what had been happening in town.
“Things have been quiet,” Smith told him, according to Donnell. “It’s Ashland.”
Donnell said Smith, a high school freshman, was a little boy when he moved to East Bluff Roadin the town west of Framingham. He still lives there with his father.
Court records show Smith’s father sought emergency custody of his son in 2005 after Everett police and child welfare authorities allegedly learned that his mother was injecting heroin in front of him and overdosed while he was in her care.
Smith now faces up to life in prison if convicted as an adult, said his attorney, Walter McKee. He called the possibility a “travesty.”
“I have been representing young juveniles for many years. I think what is striking when you meet them’’ is their appearance, McKee said in a telephone interview Tuesday. Smith “is a little kid. He’s got braces. Long hair in the front, and sort of short in the back. He looks like any other kid.”
Under Maine law, McKee said, a judge will hold a hearing to determine whether the case will remain in the juvenile system or be transferred to adult court. In juvenile court, convicted defendants are released when they turn 21.
If the case is sent to adult court, the teens face a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years and up to life if convicted of murder, he said.
The father of Thomas Severance, the third boy, said in a telephone interview Tuesday that he has never met his son and was unaware of his arrest.
“I haven’t seen my son, period. I pay child support and I don’t even know what my son looks like,” said the father, Hassan Redd, who lives in Roxbury.
A woman who answered the door at Severance’s home in Ashland declined to comment.
On Mountain Gate Road in Ashland, where Kimberly Mironovas lived until last year, a former neighbor said he would occasionally see her outside walking her dog, and her son was around all the time.
“He was a little different,” he said of Lukas Mironovas. “I know the family is going through a tragedy right now, so I don’t want to say anything. Let’s just say he was a little different.”
The youth was “never aggressive or anything like that,” said the man, who declined to give his name.
There was no answer in Ashland at the door listed for Lukas Mironovas’s father, Alex Mironovas, who was described in court papers as a “dedicated and concerned parent” who had weekend visitations with his son.
In Maine, Kimberly Mironovas lived in a simple wood frame house with Lukas.
At the cosmetology school where she studied, Coco said her fellow students looked up to her as a mentor. Two weeks ago, she walked the catwalk in the school’s “Trashion Show,” an event in which students styled one another and created outfits from recycled material.
“You could just see a glow about her after she had her hair and makeup done,” Coco said. “She got to be a supermodel.”
He remembered the first time he met Kimberly Mironovas, who showed up for her interview in a black dress with a long pixie cut, and already looked like a hairdresser.
“She had the heart and talent for this work,” Coco said. “I know she would have been really successful.”John R. Ellement of the Globe staff and Globe correspondent Elise Takahama contributed to this report. Laura Crimaldi can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @lauracrimaldi. Jerome Campbell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @jeromercampbell. Emily Sweeney can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @emilysweeney.