Evidence gathered in double homicide; police expect arrest soon

Posted Dec. 15, 1999, at 1:06 p.m.
Last modified Nov. 24, 2010, at 1:07 p.m.

DEXTER — Maine State Police officers are progressing in their investigation of the double homicide earlier this month in Dexter, although an arrest has yet to be made.

Police are optimistic that they will make an arrest soon in connection with the Dec. 3 shooting deaths of Mindy Gould, 20, and Treven Jacob Cunningham, 21 months, of Dexter.

On Tuesday, Gould’s former boyfriend, Jeffrey Cookson, 36, formerly of New Gloucester and now of Guilford, and his attorney, Dale Thistle of Newport, denied that Cookson had any connection to the slayings. Cookson had been held briefly by investigators after the deaths.

“They’re going to eat their words,” Cookson said of media reports that he may be a suspect.

“The truth is going to come out in the end,” he said at the Guilford home of his brother. Cookson declined to say anything further.

Gould had been baby-sitting Treven at 136 Church St. in Dexter when someone apparently entered the home and shot the young woman and the toddler in the head. Treven was the son of Gould’s friend Cassie Cunningham of Dexter.

Gould recently had moved into the Dexter home to be with her sister Melanie Bragg and the owner of the house, Alan LaFountain, after ending a relationship with Cookson.

Three days before Gould’s death, the woman had obtained a restraining order in Newport District Court against Cookson.

Attorney Thistle said his client is innocent and that he believes a third party was involved in the killings.

“I don’t believe for a minute that my client did it,” Thistle said. He said he hasn’t begun a thorough investigation because there have been no charges filed against Cookson.

Thistle said that should his client be charged, the attorney had a theory that he’ll investigate. “It’s too undeveloped to be reliable at this time,” he said.

Thistle said he thought someone other than Cookson was involved and that that person was aware that the attention would be diverted to Cookson because of the restraining order. Cookson would be the No. 1 candidate in an event like this, the attorney said.

His client hasn’t tried to run away and hide, Thistle pointed out. Cookson is living with his brother Roland Cookson.

Lt. Darrell Ouellette of the Maine State Police confirmed Monday that some searches have been conducted, but declined to be more specific. He said police were awaiting the results of tests on evidence, including ballistics and DNA samples, taken from the LaFountain home.

Gould was not the first woman to have taken out a restraining or protection order against Cookson. A court clerk confirmed Tuesday that Jennifer Cotton of Norway filed a protection order against Cookson on Nov. 30, 1994, in South Paris District Court.

Art Jette of Garland, Treven’s stepgrandfather, said Tuesday that he had no speculations about who was behind the deaths, but was confident the state police would find the person responsible.

“We want the person responsible to be nailed,” he said.

Jette said the families of Treven and Gould were dealing with the loss and grief together.

“Last Friday, we buried two people that were deeply loved, and we’ve had a real generous outpouring of emotional and other forms of support from the community,” he said. “It’s just a crushing sense of loss.

“Nobody will ever, ever help us understand why anyone would want to willfully execute a child,” Jette said.

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