Man charged with killing grandmother in Wilton says he used hammer

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UPDATE: Man charged in Wilton slaying is the son of a convicted killer

FARMINGTON — A Wilton man charged with killing his grandmother Saturday will be held without bail until a Jan. 30 hearing. 

Dana Craney, 22, who was arrested on a charge of murder Sunday, made his first appearance Monday in Franklin County Superior Court.

A conviction on the charge carries a minimum 25 years to life in prison.

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Craney’s attorney, Walter “Woody” Hanstein of Farmington, did not object to state Assistant Attorney General Deb Cashman’s request to have a criminal responsibility evaluation.

Hanstein said that he believed that there are significant mental health issues.

Craney told police that he had bludgeoned Joanne Goudreau, 67, to death with a hammer, striking her in the head six or seven times in her bedroom while she slept, according to a police affidavit filed with the court.

He then dragged his grandmother’s body into the backyard behind the trailer that they shared at 1130 Weld Road and hid her in a depression, placing a piece of plywood on top of her and some bags of trash, he told police.

Goudreau’s daughter and Craney’s mother, Katherine Lord, who owns the trailer, sat in court during Craney’s brief appearance. Her eyes welled up as she looked in the direction of her son, who was seated with other inmates in the courtroom.

The Maine Medical Examiner concluded that the cause of Goudreau’s death was skull fractures and lacerations of the brain due to blunt force trauma of the head, according to the affidavit.

Craney’s father, also named Dana Craney, is serving time in prison for murdering a used furniture dealer and auctioneer, Leon Michaud, in December 1990 in Auburn. The older Craney had a co-defendant in that case.

According to the Maine State Police affidavit filed by Detective Randall Keaten, the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department called Saturday to advise of a possible homicide and that an “elderly woman” had been located deceased behind her home.

En route, Keaten received a message from Wilton Sgt. Chad Abbott that Craney was being taken to the Wilton Police Department. Keaten asked that he be taken to Farmington Police Department to a video- and audio-equipped interview room.

Keaten and Detective Michael Chavez conducted a post-Miranda recorded interview of Craney. 

In the initial interview, he told police that he had been involved in a verbal altercation with his grandmother and that at the height of the argument, Goudreau struck him with her hand. Craney told police that the argument was over leaving a pot on the stove. Craney continued to tell police that Goudreau fled the home after the fight and left in an unknown direction. 

Later in the interview, Craney told police he had left the trailer looking for his grandmother and returned home to find a softball-sized blood stain on the floor by her bed, the affidavit states.

Craney told police that he tried to clean this blood stain up with a red towel. He admitted to police that he was concerned for his grandmother after seeing the suspected blood stain, but refused to tell responding officers who came to his house later that night looking for his grandmother.

Craney went on to tell police that he in fact discovered his grandmother deceased behind the home after following a blood trail from the trailer to the backyard.

He also told police that the footwear impressions in the snow would match his military-style footwear that he was currently wearing because he had made several trips from the trailer out to the body. Craney told police that he was in fear of being charged with killing his grandmother if he was the one who had discovered her.

Craney told police that he may have his grandmother’s blood on the cuff of the jacket he was wearing from cleaning up the blood stain near her bed. 

Craney eventually told police he bludgeoned his grandmother in the head. He claimed that she physically and sexually assaulted him his entire life, the affidavit states.

Craney told police that “he had enough of the abuse and needed to end it,” police stated.

Franklin County Lt. David Rackliffe and Cpl. Christopher Chase both responded to the scene to assist with police dog tracks to look for Goudreau at around 4:38 p.m.

The two deputies went in different directions to search the area.

Rackliffe located a set of tracks in the snow leading away from the trailer along the southern side of the property. He reported following the tracks to a depression that was covered with a piece of plywood and a couple of bags of trash, according to Keaten’s affidavit. 

Rackliffe looked at the plywood and saw what he knew from his experience as a paramedic to be a human ear partially obscured by a blood soaked mane of hair. He could not see any signs of breathing from the human figure and left the body in place, the affidavit states.

State police Detective Herb Leighton interviewed Lord, who told him she had spoken to Craney by phone at 3:32 p.m. and asked to speak to her mother.

Craney told his mother then that Goudreau had gotten into an argument with him, leaving the home and yelling that, “Everything is yours,” the affidavit states.

Lord said Craney also told her that Goudreau had been gone for a couple of hours.

Leighton also spoke to a neighbor, Sharon Gregory, who told him that two weeks prior Goudreau had visited their home with blood on her face from a fight that she had with Craney. Gregory also told police that one week earlier Goudreau had visited her home again and told Gregory that she had to leave her home with Craney and needed to find another place to stay.

Goudreau did not tell Gregory why she had to leave her current living arrangements, the affidavit states.

Gregory also told police that Goudreau had called her Thursday and told her that she had just returned home from her temporary stay and that Craney was already hitting her, police stated.

Leighton also talked to Gregory’s husband, Tim Gregory, who told police that he was present when Craney boasted that he could kill his grandmother and get rid of the body and get away with it, the affidavit states. 

dperry@sunjournal.com 

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