The fugitive suspected in the killing of a Maine deputy might be interested in talking to authorities, police said Friday.
The shooting of Somerset County Cpl. Eugene Cole early Wednesday morning in Norridgewock has triggered an intensive search for 29-year-old John Williams. Sheriff Dale Lancaster said at a news conference Friday authorities understand that Williams may want to communicate with them but wouldn’t elaborate further. Lancaster said they are willing to listen and encouraged him to reach out.
“If John Williams is listening to me, I’d like to address him directly,” Lancaster said. “We will do anything to resolve this situation peacefully.”
Now in its third day, the manhunt is taking place in and around the heavily wooded rural community about 60 miles (96 kilometers) west of Bangor. More than 200 officers from multiple agencies, including the FBI, have been working on the case. Police planned to focus their search in the woods and door-to-door.
State Police Lt. Col. John Cote said authorities have interviewed family and friends of Williams and now have a good understanding of his whereabouts and activities in the 24 hours leading up to the shooting. Cote said they are looking for people who may have had contact with him afterward, from 2:30 a.m. Wednesday on, saying they are “critically important.”
Police said Cole’s body was found in Norridgewock outside a home on Mercer Road. The woman who lives there, Kimberly Sirois, not only found Cole’s body but also said she knows Williams and saw him earlier this month.
Sirois, an education technician at Mill Stream Elementary School in Norridgewock, said she found Cole’s body in her yard around 7:15 a.m. Wednesday. Sirois also said police told her they found body armor and a rifle in her vehicle, which she said was unlocked. A state police spokesman declined to confirm or deny details of her story.
Sirois said Williams lived with her when he was in high school after having a falling out with his parents. She said he also stayed with her last fall, but she asked him to leave because she was suspicious he was using drugs in the house.
“He was certainly struggling with addiction,” she said, “and it seemed to get progressively worse from September to after Christmas when he was asked to leave.”
She said Williams in his last visit discussed his recent arrest in Massachusetts on gun charges. He was due in court Wednesday.
Sirois said she has no idea what transpired that morning and hopes Williams turns himself in.
“Maybe because of this,” she said, “people will be more willing to step in when people are having a hard time.”
SOURCE: The Associated Press, Marina Villeneuve