DOVER-FOXCROFT — A Dover-Foxcroft man said he killed his older sister Wednesday night by repeatedly striking her head with a piece of wood and then strangling her, police said Friday.
Michael P. Toby, 53, has been charged with murder in the slaying of his sister Rosalie Shedd, 70, with whom he recently lived at Riverview Apartments in Dover-Foxcroft.
He made his initial court appearance Friday in 13th District Court.
According to police, Toby said he got into a fight with his sister on Wednesday night, struck her repeatedly on the head with a piece of wood, strangled her with a vacuum cleaner cord and put a plastic bag over her head.
Police said Shedd’s daughter found the body when she went to check on her Thursday afternoon.
Court officials had planned to conduct the hearing by videoconferencing Friday with Judge Kevin Stitham, who was on his routine schedule in the Millinocket court. A glitch occurred in the technology, however, and the connection could not be made. By the time the problem was resolved, court officials had Judge Jessie Gunther of Bangor District Court on a speakerphone to proceed with the hearing.
Assistant Attorney General Andrew Benson, who is representing the state, Dover-Foxcroft attorney Chris Smith, who is temporarily representing Toby, and Detective Jay Pelletier of the Maine State Police all identified themselves when Gunther inquired who was present in the courtroom. When asked whether Toby was in the courtroom, Toby replied, “Yes, I’m right here.”
Because of the charge of murder, Gunther said Toby had no automatic right to bail and that a hearing would be held later to address the issue. Smith advised her that Toby did not seek bail at this time.
A status appearance on the case was set by Gunther for 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 12, in Piscataquis County Superior Court.
Two search warrants were executed Friday in connection with the case. One was conducted at Shedd’s apartment and the other at a Bear’s Den rental cabin where Toby reportedly stayed Wednesday night after the slaying.
Dover-Foxcroft Police Chief Dennis Dyer said Shedd’s daughter Melanie Eastman called his office Thursday after finding her mother’s body. As a result of interviews with Eastman and her uncle, Toby was arrested at 10:19 p.m. Thursday.
Toby, whose only criminal history had been a charge of criminal trespass in 1977, reportedly had lived in the Lewiston area until he lost his job. In July, he moved to Dover-Foxcroft and lived in a camper off Burrough’s Road. When it became too cold, he moved in with his sister, Dyer said.
Shedd’s best friend, Shirley Langley, said Friday that Toby kept everything to himself. “He was the kind who wouldn’t do much talking. He was awful quiet,” she said.
Langley, who used to check on Shedd’s well-being every day and would share the daily newspaper with her, said she last saw Shedd alive Wednesday afternoon. Shedd, a diabetic, had a doctor’s appointment that day so Langley went to find out how she had fared.
On Thursday morning, Shedd did not answer the door so Langley said she assumed her friend was asleep. A few minutes after she had returned home, Langley said, Eastman called and asked her whether she had seen Shedd. Eastman said she could not get her mother to answer the door, nor would she answer her telephone, according to Langley. Langley, who had a key to Shedd’s apartment, went to unlock the door and there she and Eastman found Shedd’s body in a bedroom, she said.
“She was a real nice woman,” Langley said.
Dyer agreed. “It’s a sad thing,” he said Friday. “I’ve known Rosalie for about 20 years, and she was a very nice lady.” He said the “quiet woman” would be missed in the community.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.