A Lubec man will likely spend the rest of his life in prison for murdering his girlfriend last year.

Paul DeForest Photo courtesy of Fauquier County, Virginia, Sheriff’s Department

Paul DeForest, 67, was sentenced in Washington County Superior Court Tuesday to 32 years in prison after pleading guilty last month to one count of intentional or knowing murder in the death of 58-year-old Eva Cox. 

Cox’s body was found in the trunk of her car on Jan. 11, 2022.

He also was sentenced Tuesday to five years for criminal solicitation of arson. According to court records, DeForest asked another man at Hancock County Jail to set fire to a man’s home. David Case, who according to court records was Cox’s friend, wrote in a letter to the judge Tuesday that he will “never, ever feel 100% safe” after the incident.

DeForest will serve the two sentences at the same time. He also was ordered to pay more than $3,000 in restitution to the Victims’ Compensation Fund.

Cox’s family and friends filled the courtroom Tuesday morning, but Assistant Attorney General Lisa Bogue told Superior Justice Robert Murray that they would not be speaking or offering statements.


“It was important for them to keep their memory of Eva separate from her murder,” Bogue said. “They don’t want those memories tarnished or in any way connected with the court proceeding, the courtroom and especially not the defendant Paul DeForest.”

Murray told DeForest that the family’s “silent vigil … is a testament to the impact that you have had.”

Eva Cox Photo courtesy of the Cox family

Bogue told the judge that Cox was missed by a “very large family.” Cox was a grandmother who loved being outside, spending time in the garden and playing with her grandchildren, according to her obituary. She had worked at Walmart for nearly two decades, where family and co-workers said she was recognized many times for “outstanding customer service, loyalty and strong work ethic.”

But Murray also thought it was significant that DeForest pleaded guilty and accepted a lengthy sentence, sparing her family an emotional trial.


On Jan. 10, 2022, a Washington County sheriff’s deputy stopped by the couple’s house on Jim’s Head Road for a well-being check, according to a police affidavit.


Several of Cox’s family members had reported her missing when they weren’t able to reach her by phone, according to a sentencing memo from prosecutors. Cox’s family said the couple were “long-time companions,” that DeForest was “verbally abusive” toward her and the two had been arguing about their house, the memo states.

No one answered the deputy’s knocks, the affidavit states, but he noticed red staining in the gravel, a gold earring on the ground and fresh tire tracks in the yard. Police got a warrant and searched the property the next day.

A neighbor allowed them to search his property, where officers say they found Cox’s body in the trunk of her 2011 Chevy Malibu. She was frozen and her head was covered in blood. Deputy Chief Medical Examiner Liam Funte later determined she had died from a gunshot wound to the head, the memo said.

Joseph Barton, a friend from Gilmanton, New Hampshire, who had been staying with DeForest and Cox before her murder, told police that he was at the couple’s home on Jan. 8 when he saw DeForest standing in the kitchen, a gun on the counter, with Cox lying on the bloody floor.

Barton said DeForest dragged Cox outside and told him to leave.

DeForest already had left Maine when police found Cox’s body. According to the sentencing memorandum, Barton told police DeForest was on his way to his daughter’s home in Warrenton, Virginia. Police apprehended him there and he was extradited to Maine, where prosecutors say he made “numerous recorded jail calls,” admitting to shooting Cox because he was concerned she was selling their property. He also made claims of self-defense, according to the memo.


DeForest declined to speak at his sentencing.

His attorney, Steven Juskewitch, agreed with prosecutors that this was a “tragic” event.

“He’s accepting full responsibility along with the consequences,” Juskewitch said. He also told Murray that the defendant was a “hard worker,” a college graduate with no criminal history other than an OUI charge, and no history of substance use or mental illness.


DeForest was indicted on the solicitation charge in June. Prosecutors said he tried paying another man at least $700 in December to set fire to Case’s home because he believed the man was the reason he was in jail. It’s not clear why DeForest thought Case was connected to the murder charges.

Through several calls, he arranged for the man to receive a $700 check for “tree clearing.” DeForest admitted the payment was for arson in an interview with a detective, according to the sentencing memo. He allegedly said he had promised to send $1,100 after the job was done.


Case said in a letter, read by a victims witness advocate Tuesday, that the incident changed his life.

“I am constantly checking my surroundings, wherever I may be,” Case wrote. “I don’t want to go home. The house that I built is no longer my safe haven.”

He said his family still worries about him, and his son has been too scared to visit him. He often stays with friends.

“It seems like the only time I can get any rest,” Case wrote.

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