Woman, child slain in Dexter

Posted Dec. 05, 1999, at 12:49 p.m.
Last modified Nov. 24, 2010, at 12:51 p.m.

DEXTER, Maine — Police are searching for the gunman who shot and killed a young woman and a toddler she had been baby-sitting Friday at a Dexter home.

The bodies of Mindy Gould, 20, and Treven Jacob Cunningham, the 2 1/2-year-old son of Cassie Cunningham of Dexter, were discovered at about 11 a.m. by Gould’s sister, Melanie Bragg, at Bragg’s home at 136 Church Street.

Both victims had been shot to death, although investigators wouldn’t say what kind of weapon was used or pinpoint the time of death, believed to be Friday morning. Investigators called the killings “suspicious shooting deaths.”

Autopsies will be conducted on the bodies today, according to a state police spokesman.

Police haven’t made an arrest nor do they have a suspect at this time, according to Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Maine State Police.

Detective Sgt. Christopher Coleman of the Maine State Police said earlier in the afternoon that he didn’t believe there was a risk in the neighborhood from the shooter, although he declined to explain why.

But McCausland said later that Dexter residents should be aware of their surroundings and keep their doors locked, as they should year round.

As police converged at the two-story, gray house on Church Street for the investigation, spectators gathered to watch. Friends of the families who heard about the tragedy hurried to the scene and fell into one another’s arms weeping.

Tabitha Robichaud, who said she had been a friend of Mindy Gould’s and lived nearby, was consoled by two friends. She had been attending classes at Pierre’s School of Cosmetology in Bangor when a friend notified her of the shooting.

“I just came home as quick as I could,” she said, wiping the tears from her eyes with her coat sleeve.

The crime scene on Church Street had an element of the surreal, as the house was dressed for Christmas with red bows on the windows, green garland wrapped around porch pillars and icicle lights attached to the porch roof. Cardboard Christmas scenes were displayed on the ground around the home, surrounded by police cruisers.

The house had been roped off with yellow tape by police, and motorists had to take a detour around the home to travel Route 7. As the word about the killings spread, more and more people drove by the scene.

Andy Conway, who lives across the street from Bragg, said he had helped his daughter deliver the Bangor Daily News that morning and had gone back to sleep when he heard loud talking and someone crying outside. Upon investigation, he saw several police cruisers parked on the street.

Asked if he heard any gunshots, Conway said, “I’ve been right here this morning, and I didn’t hear anything.

“This just a little too close to home to suit me,” the neighbor said.

All afternoon, Maine State Police and Dexter police officers were seen entering and exiting the small home, gathering evidence and interviewing neighbors. An abandoned railroad bed that ran behind the Church Street home also was searched.

By late afternoon, the two bodies were carried from the home and placed inside a blue van operated by the state medical examiner’s office.

“At this point we’re not going to get into a lot of details [about the shooting],” McCausland said late Friday afternoon. He said the type of weapon used and details about the deaths will be known after the autopsies have been completed today.

McCausland said Mindy Gould had recently moved in with her sister, a home that Bragg shared with Alan LaFountain, who owns the residence. Neighbors said the young woman had moved from Scarborough. McCausland could not provide any details about Gould or her former hometown.

According to Dexter police, some vandalism had been reported at the home late last month.

Neighbors, who said police had been called to the home several times since fall because of loud disturbances, said the recent vandalism involved broken windows in the house and slashed tires on vehicles in the yard.

Reports of these incidents were being gathered Friday by the Dexter Police Department to aid in the investigation.

Late Friday night, state police were granted a search warrant for the crime scene through the Maine Attorney General’s Office. The search warrant was routine because other individuals also lived in the house, McCausland said.

According to the spokesman, the house would be guarded Friday night and the search would be conducted during daylight hours today. He also said that interviews would be conducted at other locations Friday night.

As the investigation continues, police are urging anyone who may have seen vehicles in the yard or some activity there Friday morning to notify the Dexter Police Department at 924-7322, or the Maine State Police at 1-800-432-7381.

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