BREWER, Maine — Police arrested a convicted murderer from Vermont on South Main Street on Wednesday morning after he allegedly led a high-speed chase upriver to Brewer in a stolen car.
Kent Hanson, 62, stole a red 2002 Chevrolet Cavalier from the parking lot of a business on Mechanic Street, according to a statement from the Bucksport Police Department.
Police received the report of the theft at about 9:30 a.m. Shortly afterward, Officer Daniel Harlan spotted the vehicle traveling north on Route 15 and attempted to stop it. Instead of pulling over, Hanson led police on a chase that reached speeds of 80 and 90 mph, passing other vehicles and driving into oncoming traffic, accord-ing to the police statement.
Officers from the Penobscot County Sheriff’s Department and the Brewer Police Department laid spike mats along the route. The vehicle finally was forced to a halt on South Main in Brewer, incurring minor damage as it came to rest beside a utility pole, Harlan said.
Hanson, who suffered minor injuries, was arrested at the scene and charged on multiple counts, including felony theft of a motor vehicle, driving to endanger, operating after suspension and eluding a police officer. He was taken to Maine Coast Memorial Hospital in Ellsworth before being taken later in the day to the Hancock County Jail in Ellsworth, where he awaits arraignment.
Hanson, who is originally from Brattleboro, Vt., served 20 years in a Vermont prison for the 1985 murder of a woman acquaintance. Before that, he spent six years in a Vermont state hospital after pleading not guilty by reason of insanity in the 1964 killing of his wife. He also has a lengthy history of stealing vehicles and escaping from jail, according to published reports.
In May 2005, after serving out his 20-year murder sentence in Vermont, Hanson came to live at a church-run halfway house in Charleston. The residence, called 2nd Chance Ranch, was located a short distance from the Charleston Correctional Center on Route 15 and operated by Fred and Christina Maddocks.
About a week after he arrived in Maine, Hanson stole a pickup truck at the ranch and disappeared. Two days later, the pickup was spotted in the parking lot of a bar in Newport. Hanson was located later that day at the Detroit home of a woman he had met at the bar and gone home with the night before.
A call to the Maddockses’ home on Wednesday was not immediately returned.
Hanson was sentenced to five years for stealing the truck, but was released at the beginning of August and settled in Bucksport shortly afterward, according to Bucksport Police Chief Sean Geagan.
Geagan said police were aware of Hanson’s release, knew he was living in town, and were “keeping an eye” on his activities. But Geagan said officers didn’t know Hanson was the driver of the stolen car until it was stopped in Brewer.
Hanson has been living on Main Street and has had “a female companion,” Geagan said.
An e-mail purporting to be from the daughter of Hanson’s 1985 murder victim was sent to the Portland Press Herald on Aug. 5, asking the paper to alert town officials and the community to his whereabouts.
“I wanted to let your town know because he is a very dangerous man, and I believe he will hurt someone again,” the sender wrote.
Geagan said his department had been notified of Hanson’s release by unidentified individuals familiar with his criminal past, but he declined to elaborate. Other than sex offenders, he said, people released from jail are under no obligation to report their whereabouts, and law enforcement officials have no cause to detain or interrogate them.
“Once someone’s done their time, they’re free,” Geagan said.
At the time of Hanson’s 2005 jury-waived trial for stealing the Maddockses’ pickup truck, Assistant Penobscot County District Attorney Greg Campbell called Hanson “an extremely dangerous individual” and said he was pleased with the court’s maximum allowable sentence.