SCARBOROUGH — Police accused a 22-year-old Freeport man Tuesday of going on a violent rampage this weekend, killing an 82-year-old Scarborough man and then sexually assaulting a woman and robbing a resident in West Bath before being arrested.

In a span of roughly four hours Sunday, Maine State Police detectives say, Quinton Hanna stabbed 82-year-old James “Jim” Pearson to death on his front lawn in Scarborough, then drove to West Bath, where he allegedly committed a sexual assault, an attempted murder, a robbery and a motor vehicle theft at three places in the midcoast town.

Quinton Hanna Photo courtesy of Scarborough Police Department

Police have not said what they believe motivated the attacks. They had characterized the Scarborough slaying, in which Hanna is charged with murder, as a random assault.

The wave of violence began when Hanna attacked Pearson around 8:15 a.m. Sunday, police said. Pearson was a retired public school teacher and a Christmas tree farmer who was well known in Scarborough, and whose daughter, Sgt. Mary Pearson, has been a police officer with the town for 32 years.

Police say there is no indication Hanna and Pearson knew each other.

Pearson’s wife, Nancy, was at home during the attack and her husband was still alive when she tried to render aid. She contacted nearby family members, who called 911. Pearson was pronounced dead at a hospital. Police have not said whether Pearson was able to describe the attacker before he died.

Maine State Police Lt. Mark Holmquist said investigators believe Hanna then drove a Silver 2013 Subaru Outback to the southern-most area of West Bath. Sometime between 9:30 and 10 a.m., Hanna restrained a woman, threatened her with a knife and sexually assaulted her on Birch Point Road, police said. When she fled, Hanna ran her over with his car, Holmquist said.

She sustained injuries to her lower extremities.

Steve McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety, described the woman’s injuries as serious but not life-threatening. McCausland said the victim remained hospitalized Tuesday night.

Neighbors in the area called police when they heard the commotion, but by the time police arrived, Hanna had moved to another location.

About 10:30 a.m., police say, Hanna went to the home of Suzanne Temple, 72, on West Side Drive in West Bath. Police say Hanna broke into Temple’s home, robbed and threatened her and then ran away. Temple declined to discuss the incident when reached by phone Tuesday afternoon.

Police say Hanna then stole a black Ford SUV from nearby Houghton Pond Road. Police received a report of the stolen vehicle at 11:17 a.m., but investigators are not sure yet whether there was a delay between the time of the theft and when it was reported to police.

Hanna was behind the wheel of the stolen SUV when he was taken into custody by Brunswick police on Maine Street in Brunswick around noon.

Jim Pearson of Beech Ridge Farm in Scarborough pauses while driving his tractor on Nov. 30, 1999. Staff file photo

Holmquist said Hanna has been cooperative with police, but he declined to discuss what Hanna told them during an interview. Officers have executed search warrants pursuant to the case, but Holmquist said the affidavits outlining probable cause for those searches have been sealed by a judge.

Hanna made an initial appearance Monday in West Bath District Court on charges related to the alleged incidents in West Bath, and was being held at Two Bridges Regional Jail on $250,000 bail. He was charged with attempted murder, elevated aggravated assault, unlawful sexual contact, criminal restraint, robbery, burglary, and two counts of criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon, a knife.

All of those counts are felonies, meaning a Sagadahoc grand jury must vote to indict him before he returns to court to enter a plea.

Hanna is expected to be transferred to Cumberland County Jail some time this week so he may appear in Cumberland County Unified Criminal Court on the murder charge in Pearson’s death, which also will require an indictment by a Cumberland County grand jury to proceed.

More charges could be coming. Investigators are looking into whether Hanna also was involved in another non-fatal stabbing in Freeport on Saturday evening at a residence on Wardtown Road, less than a mile from Hanna’s family home on Grant Road. The victim in that case has been treated and released from the hospital, Holmquist said.

At the Scarborough police station, Chief Robbie Moulton was joined by about two dozen other Scarborough police officers, dispatchers and other employees who know Sgt. Mary Pearson.

Moulton issued a statement Tuesday on the police department’s Facebook page, acknowledging the fear that gripped the community following Pearson’s death. He also expressed his condolences to the Pearson family for their loss and apologized to the town of Scarborough for being forced to withhold information about the suspect until authorities could connect Hanna to all the crimes he is accused of committing.

“I want the public to know that I fully recognize that this has been a very difficult and scary situation. Investigators had information about this suspect and the fact that he was in custody hours into the investigation,” Moulton said. “Unfortunately, we were unable to share that information with the general public and to some extent even members of our own department.

“Even though we were not able to share some information, please know that the safety and security of our community was and always will be of the utmost importance.”

Pearson was remembered this week by friends and former colleagues as the type of guy who was quick to help anyone, regardless of whether he knew them.

Pearson taught at Gorham High School and ran Beech Ridge Farm with his wife. They sold Christmas trees on their property for three decades.

Moulton said that Pearson’s son, Robert, is a 20-year veteran of the United States Navy, having retired as a Navy commander.

Maine State Police Lt. Mark Holmquist addresses the media at a news conference held to announce the arrest of Quinton Hanna of Freeport in the killing of James Pearson. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

“This is a loss to all of us. He reflects the best of Maine,” said Glenn Cummings, who taught with Pearson in Gorham and is now president of the University of Southern Maine. “He cared about all the right things. He was a man who brought lots of joy into people’s lives, including my own.”

Hanna has been in trouble with the law before, according to the state Bureau of Identification.

Hanna was charged with theft by South Portland police in October 2016, but he was offered a deferred disposition, he agreed to plead guilty, and the case was unconditionally discharged in July 2017, meaning the only penalty was the guilty plea itself.

A month after the theft charge, in November 2016, police at the University of Southern Maine Gorham campus charged Hanna with unlawful sexual touching, disorderly conduct and criminal trespassing, all misdemeanors. Hanna is not currently a student at USM, but was enrolled there for one semester, university spokesman Dan Hartill said.

Again, Hanna received a deferred disposition, pleading guilty to criminal trespassing and assault, and the cases were unconditionally discharged in January 2019, according to the SBI records.

A deferred disposition means a defendant pleads guilty to a charge, but the charges can be reduced or dismissed at a later date if the defendant meets agreed-upon conditions.

According to Hanna’s Facebook page, he grew up in the Franklin County town of Strong and attended Mt. Abram High School where he starred in basketball and graduated in 2015.

Heath Cowan, Hanna’s high school coach, said his relationship with Hanna was confined to the basketball court where Hanna became standout player for the Roadrunners.

“He could play all five positions and he could jump through the roof,” said Cowan, who now coaches the varsity squad at Waterville High School. “He was a standout for our team.”

Cowan was stunned that Hanna has been charged with murder.

“Beyond basketball, he was just a quiet kid,” Cowan said. “He was not the type of kid, who you would say was a bad kid. I never had any issues with him.”

 

Staff Writer Gillian Graham contributed to this report.

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