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The Bangor Daily News from Bangor, Maine • 4

Bangor, Maine
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I BANGOR DAILY NEWS SATURDAY SUNDAY APRIL 15-16 2000 A4 From Page One interest in unsolved murders Arrest revives with the Mount Desert Police Department were very Suminsby said feeling was that this was not a local A body in Newport The body of Ellen Choate was discovered in a wooded area on' the side of Old County Road in Newport two years after her disappearance according to police 1 The woman was apparently on her way from Philadelphia to Ban- -gor to take a position as a nursery school teacher Police suspect Choate planned to take a bus to Bangor to start work at the school and for unknown reasons got off in Newport where a Greyhound station existed at the time Newport Police Chief Jim Ricker said Friday that the Pennsylvania woman did appear to have ties to Newport where she sporadically stayed with friends at a commune on the Stetson Road The medical examiner on the case detected what he described as unnatural hole in the fact her body was never found He served six years in prison for the crime Police also suspect Hicks in the disappearances of Jerilyn Towers who vanished in 1982 and Lynn Willette who last was seen in 19 While the bodies of those women have never been found the remains of two others have Ouellette said police looking into who killed the two women were at a disadvantage because Hicks was a virtual unknown in the area until his trial made headlines statewide in the 1980s would have been nice to have found out where he was at the time or if he had an said the detective MDI mystery Two retired state detectives who investigated the 1977 murder of Spellman whose body was found in Northeast Harbor said they were unable to develop any strong suspects in that case never had a said Edward Mandell a retired state police detective who was the lead investigator on the case over the East he said had no idea until we tried to identify her All up and down the coast bodies were showing The investigation into death remained active for more than a year and a half Mandell said went to Michigan twice and I went to look at a guy in New Mandell said worked on that case quite a bit for a year and a half I felt bad about that case because we have a lot to go on We never came up with anything Shuman said he did not recall identifying Hicks as a suspect in the Spellman case during the early days of the investigation although he noted that state police officers did keep a close eye on Hicks after his girlfriend disappeared never ever developed a suspect not at that Shuman said Shuman said investigators felt at the time that the killer probably was not from the general area The murder unsettled the local community according to Kathy Suminsby a part-time dispatcher By Rich Hewitt and Jeff Tuttle Of the NEWS Staff NORTHEAST HARBOR and NEWPORT With the arrest of suspected serial killer James Hicks in Texas this week police are taking a closer look at his possible involvement in two unsolved murders in Maine time you have a case where a body has been found and she died as the result of foul play especially in central Maine safe to say be looking at his possible Maine State Police Lt Darrell Ouellette said Friday very capable of doing what happened-to those Hicks remains in a Texas jail accused of attacking an elderly woman in Lubbock Ouellette-said Maine authorities would certainly be interested in talking with Hicks about the unsolved murders of two women Ellen Choate of Philadelphia and Leslie Spellman of Hing-ham Mass The bodies were found in Newport and Northeast Harbor body was discovered by tourists in the Asticou Azalea Gardens in Northeast Harbor early on the morning of June 19 1977 Spellman had been badly beaten and the state medical examiner determined that she had died of lacerations to the skull and brainAccording to Mandell Spellman had been hiking in Vermont with her sister before traveling to Maine sister was hitchhiking to New York from Mandell said was coming to Acadia so they dropped her off and she started hitchhiking About 12 hours later they found her body in Barry Shuman a retired state police detective who worked on the case in 1977 said there was a gap where nothing is known about the activity between Vermont and Maine Barre Vermont to Maine we think she really stopped Shuman said checked every restaurant every store along the were missing girls all respectively within weeks of each other in 1977 Investigators have said nothing in particular ties Hicks 48 to the crimes but he has not been ruled out as a suspect in the murders which happened around the time wife Jennie disappeared Police said Hicks formerly of Carmel and Brewer could have easily traveled to the areas where the women were found murdered But investigators at all willing to say zeroed in on the convicted murderer as a suspect in the two unsolved deaths certainly willing to talk to him about these homicides and maybe he can shed some light on said Ouellette adding that state police here would not travel to Texas unless police there request assistance or Hicks appears willing to talk at this point' premature to call him a Hicks has been a suspect however in the disappearances of three women in central and eastern Maine Hicks was convicted in 1984 of killing Jennie Hicks despite the He was always respectful to me and my family but I did notice that he was not that respectful to women I just thought he was a jerk to women not a Neighbors notice Back on West Avenue in Level-land on Friday Joey York his son Charles and his brother Danny York were working on a racing truck with a very loud engine THUMPER was painted on the back Joey York owns most of the small houses that line the road around his house His daughter lives across the street opposite the Hickses in a small blue house with the skeletal remains of cow heads on her porch that she uses as planters for ivy she Joey York stated as Brandie Hicks walked out of her house and opened the trunk of her car been stuff out of there since Brandie Hicks notified police in Texas on Friday that she planned to box up and sell her belongings She offered to let police go through them first Before they got a chance however Brandie attorney intervened and said police could not do so without a warrant James Hicks was arrested last Tuesday and the next day the 1984 van was repossessed by the bank and animal control came and took one of their pitbulls because he was considered a menace according to Joey York The Yorks said James Hicks was never a problem in the neighborhood Wait and see In July 1999 when the son was only weeks old Texas Child Protective Services took temporary custody of the child Since then the Hickses have engaged in a court battle to try to regain custody A service plan on file at the Levelland District Court states that both were to take parenting classes and undergo therapy and psychological evaluations At a custody hearing on Thursday a CPS worker testified that even though James Hicks was in jail she would still seek to terminate Brandie parental rights because she made bad choices when it came to men James Hicks willingly relink quished his parental rights on Thursday Parental rights of Brandie Hicks remain before the court She has filed for a divorce For Detective Zamboni Chief Ricker and three Maine families a matter of and now Hicks has lost his children his wife his job most of his belongings his dog and for now his freedom Most believe however that he still has his secrets arrested The employer who did not want to be identified said Hicks was an excellent worker was on time and never complained about the pay gotten a good reference from someone he used to work for in the employer said What the employer know was that Hicks was moonlighting on the side doing handyman jobs He had been working for the woman he allegedly attacked since last October according to police The employer said Hicks met the woman last summer when the company painted her house Hicks went back and continued to work for the woman on the side painting and doing tile work During the alleged attack last Saturday Hicks held a gun to the head made her drink cough syrup filled her tub with water and made her turn over to him the title of her car and other items Reportedly he also made her write what she thought would be a suicide note The woman escaped when Hicks went through the house looking for guns The employer said he was shocked when he heard of arrest and his past never had a trouble with him He actually was a fun guy to be around He never talked much about his past just said he had an ex-wife back in Maine that gave him trouble I guess she was one who lived Hicks Continued from Page 1 A 99-year prison sentence is not uncommon for violent first-degree felonies according to Lubbock County Sheriff Department personnel With and parole Hicks probably would serve at least 33 years in prison before becoming eligible for parole officials said He would be 81 years old at that time Maine families react never thought he would even be caught or serve time in Wendy Allison of Orring-ton said Thursday night afraid too much to wish for that he would tell us what happened to my Lynn Willette disappeared without a trace in May 19 after spending a morning working with Hicks at the Twin City Motel in Brewer The two had recently broken off a live-in relationship For the first time in years however the famihes of Willette Jerilyn Towers and Jennie Hicks have a glimmer of hope They hope to learn how the women died and where their bodies are located put it into words how I said Jean Tibbets sister of Jerilyn Towers all of these years somewhere where he hurt anyone else the most important thing I doubt ever admit to killing my sister and I doubt ever tell us where she arrest in Texas has reenergized the investigation into the Maine cases police said Though Hicks was convicted of killing Jennie Hicks her body has never been found He has never been charged with the disappearances or murders of Towers and Willette Towers disappeared in 1982 after she left with Hicks from a Newport bar That disappearance triggered an investigation into Jennie disappearance in 1977 leading to Hicks being convicted of her murder He served six years in prison On Friday Newport Police Chief James Ricker who has spent nearly 20 years trying to link Hicks to disappearance was fielding phone calls and frantically thinking about how to proceed The key may he with wife 22-year-old Brandie Hicks who moved with him to Texas in 19 lost one of their babies to the Maine Department of Human Services The Texas Department of Child Protective Services has temporary custody of the 10-month-old son and Texas is poised to take custody of another baby who is expected in two or three weeks Authorities in Maine have long wondered how much Brandie Hicks knows about her troubled past and whether she has any evidence that could help them prove that Hicks murdered Willette and Towers Whether they plan to question her remained unclear on Friday Texas justice The Lubbock County Jail is a large brick complex located on Main Street in downtown Lubbock a city of 195000 near the Texas Panhandle within sight of a railway yard the county courthouse and the Lubbock Police Department Across the street several vacant brick buildings face the railyard Inside the jail Hicks wears a dark blue cotton jail uniform He is a high-security prisoner according to jail personnel and has a cell large enough for a cot a toilet and a small desk He has a phone in his cell and can make collect calls On Friday Hicks turned down a written request for an interview It could take several months or up to a year for Hicks to go to trial on the two Texas charges of aggravated robbery and causing injury to an elderly person according to Sue Faison court coordinator for the 72nd District Court in Lubbock where case is filed Texas takes crime seriously according to Lubbock County Sheriff David Gutierrez a capital punishment state and sentences for violent crimes are lengthy Unlike Maine where only judges can sentence an offender in Texas the jurors who determine guilt or innocence often get to set the punishment Not too long ago a man who committed an armed robbery of a church was sentenced to 99 years in prison by a jury according to a jail administrator Sheriff Gutierrez credits governor and presidential candidate George Bush with get-tough attitude on crime him it was a revolving the sheriff said Most law enforcement officials in Maine and Texas say Hicks is in prison for a long time might not have been the best said one law enforcement official mighta wanted to have chosen another state to live in if he was going to commit a A fateful choice James and Brandie Hicks moved to Texas in 19 after relinquishing their parental rights to their newborn baby girl in Maine According to court documents on file at the District Court in Level-land the couple moved to Texas because Brandie was pregnant again and hoped to avoid having the unborn child taken by Department of Human Services It work The couple moved to Levelland a town of 13000 and for a period of time lived with grandparents Maine authorities quickly located them and notified law enforcement and Department of Child Protective Services Both were told of past along with allegations that he sexually abused his other children who are grown and live in Maine In May 1999 the Hickses moved into a small single-story home on West Avenue in Levelland They rented the wood-framed house from Joey York who lived in and operated a used-car shop across the street The tan home with brown trim in a lower-income neighborhood cost them $350 a month York had a two-car garage behind the home and kept some of his trucks there The Hickses moved in with their two white pit bulls and about a month later Brandie gave birth to a son Excellent worker Hicks meanwhile was working for a small family-owned remodeling business in Lubbock located about 30 miles to the east of Level-land He continued to work there at least 40 hours a week until he was Leadership Business and Professional Skills Management and HR Creativity Money Career Development Life and Well-being Spring is here Think growth 20th Annual USM Conference om odd With a Relationship 10 Plan at Bangor Savings Bank you get this premium rate plus other great benefits Customers without the plan are eligible for a rate of 674 APY For details call 1 877-Bangorl or visit any of our 40 offices today Wednesday May 24 and Thursday May 25 2000 Holiday Inn by the Bay Portland Maine 1 877-Bangorl Sponsored by Central Maine Power Bath Iron Works BelLAtlantic Dead River Company Diversified Business Communications Fairchild Semiconductor Hannaford Bros Harmon's and Maine State Government Management Research Group Blethen Maine Newspapers Time Warner Transformit UNUM Verrill Dana Wright Express For more information or to register call 780-5960 or e-mail: sherrypusmmaineedu TTY 780-5646 This is He pWe Just maintain a combined qualifying balance of $1 0000 or more and a Bangor Savings Bank checking account The minimum deposit to open the CD and obtain the APY is $500 Ask us for details Interest ratesJanmial percentage yields (APYs) on a 24-month Relationship 10 Plan CD: 677F700 for aU other customers 652I674 Rates accurate as of 41100 and are subject to change without notice A penalty may be imposed for early withdrawal Member FDIC lit Equal Housing Lender QUniversity of Southern Maine UMf Extension 4 7.

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