LEWISTON —A 29-year-old New Bedford man has been charged with two counts of murder in connection with the shooting deaths of a man and woman outside a mobile home in New Gloucester Monday night.
Joel Hayden was arrested immediately after his release from Maine Medical Center, where he was being treated for a back injury suffered during a police chase following the shooting, according to Stephen McCausland, a spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety.
He is charged with the murder of his girlfriend Renee Sandora, 27, of New Gloucester and Trevor Mills, 28, of New Bedford, Mass. Sandora was the mother of Hayden's four children, including 3-month-old twins, and Mills was Hayden's longtime friend.
Sandora died at Central Maine Medical Center mid-day Tuesday and Mills died there late Tuesday night. Autopsies of both victims are scheduled Thursday.
Immediately after his arrest at the hospital, Hayden was transported to Cumberland County Superior Court to make his first appearance and then taken to the Cumberland County Jail in Portland.
The twins were living with Sandora in New Gloucester, and all of the couple's children were placed in the custody of their grandparents after the shootings, McCausland said. The couple reportedly had a history of domestic violence.
On Tuesday, police searched the shooting scene and Hayden's car. Police also were monitoring the conditions of the victims. Hayden hadn't been charged in connection with the shooting, but detectives were updating the Maine Attorney General's Office on the status of the ongoing investigation, McCausland said.
A team of detectives and evidence technicians searched Sandora's home Tuesday for evidence. A section of Bennett Road was closed because the crime scene apparently extended into the roadway in front of Sandora's home.
Sandora was a volunteer with the regional transportation program and Hayden is an unemployed telemarketer, police said.
Neighbors described hearing gunshots from the direction of 322 Bennett Road. Jim Hutchinson, who operates a sheet metal shop just a few hundred feet from the home, said he heard three shots, then a man and a young girl talking. While Hutchinson said he could not make out what the two were saying during most of the conversation, he did hear the girl say, “He didn't do anything.”
Shortly afterward, Hutchinson heard another three shots, then police and rescue personnel arrived. Hutchinson said he didn't know the people who lived there.
Another neighbor, who asked not to be named, said that the home, a trailer, had been for sale for several years until a family moved in five or six months ago.
The car involved in the chase is owned by Mills' mother, of New Bedford, Mass., police said. It was towed to a Maine State Police garage and will be examined later this week, McCausland said.
Hayden is no stranger to Central Maine or the criminal justice system.
In 2004, he was arrested by federal agents in Lewiston and charged with shooting a man a month earlier in Massachusetts. He was charged with aggravated assault and attempted murder in that case. While serving time at the Androscoggin County Jail, he was also charged with trafficking in prison contraband, drug dealing and carrying a concealed weapon. The charge of carrying a concealed weapon was later dismissed.
In early 2006, Hayden was arrested again, this time by Lewiston police who chased him 13 miles into Poland. Hayden, the driver of the car involved in the chase, was charged with eluding police, drug possession and violating bail.
In 2009, Hayden was charged and convicted of trafficking in dangerous knives and driving while intoxicated. He served four days in jail.
Mills has had his share of legal problems as well. In fact, he and Hayden both have connections to West End gang members in New Bedford, Mass., according to news reports from that area.
Mills’ criminal record goes back to 2002 when he was charged with carrying a dangerous weapon, assault with a dangerous weapon and assault and battery. He was later given a 1-year suspended jail sentence.
Mills was arrested in 2004 in connection with a shooting in New Bedford, according to the Standard-Times. It was not clear how the case was resolved in court.
In 2001, Mills, then 18, and Hayden, 19, were stabbed, and refused to help police in the investigation. Mills suffered "multiple stab wounds," and told police he fought with the assailant. He said that after escaping, he went outside his home to seek help and a neighbor contacted police.
Hayden was the more seriously injured of the two, according to the Standard-Times. He received a stab wound to the chest requiring doctors to order helicopter transportation to Boston.
In January 2004, Hayden, then 22, was identified as the gunman who shot a 39-year-old man in the chest in the city's West End during a domestic violence incident. The victim, who survived, was Hayden's mother's boyfriend. He was subsequently arrested in Maine, and taken back to the area for prosecution.
“They’re well-known to us. I’m not surprised to hear that they’re the subjects of a criminal investigation,” said New Bedford Police Chief David A. Provencher.