May 28, 2018
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Newport Murder suspect caught

By Christopher Cousins, BDN Staff

NEWPORT, Maine — A local man who eluded a massive police manhunt for more than three days was recognized by a waitress as he drank coffee at a truck stop early Friday, and local police arrested him without incident. He later appeared before a Penobscot County Superior Court justice in Bangor on charges of murdering his father and assaulting his mother.

Perley Goodrich Jr., 45, is accused of fatally shooting Perley Goodrich Sr., 76, and beating Sandra Goodrich, 64, at around 11:40 p.m. Monday at the home they shared at 146 Rutland Road in Newport. He was arrested by two Newport police officers at 1 a.m. Friday at the Big Stop restaurant in Newport. More than 50 law enforcement officers using dogs, helicopters and planes spent the intervening days combing the woods and marshy areas near this southern Penobscot County town looking for Goodrich.

The man accused of brutally attacking his parents is being held in Penobscot County Jail without bail.

A court affidavit states that Goodrich Jr. entered his mother’s bedroom where she was asleep Monday night and asked to use her cellular telephone. He left the room with the phone. When his mother followed Goodrich Jr. to the living room he grabbed her, struck her with his fists and attempted to bind her hands together with duct tape. He then pulled a handgun and struck her on the head five to six times leaving her dazed and beaten, she told police.

Goodrich Jr. then went to the bedroom where his father was sleeping, according to the affidavit. Sandra Goodrich told police she heard a gunshot from the bedroom and Goodrich Sr. exclaim, “He shot me.” She fled the home and ran to a neighbor’s house where police were called. Police later found Goodrich Sr. dead with a gunshot wound in his back. Goodrich Jr. had fled the home. A green Chrysler van owned by the elder Goodriches was later found abandoned in a gravel pit two and a half miles from the home. Sandra Goodrich told authorities her son had access to at least five guns.

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Sandra Goodrich told police that Goodrich Jr. was “crazy” and that she had taken him to the hospital three times that week, where they had given him a new medication. She said there had been talk about sending him to a psychiatric hospital in Bangor.

Out of hiding

Those who surmised Goodrich Jr. had been hiding in the woods near the ends of Pratt and Smith roads since late Monday night appear to have been right, according to authorities.

“We believe he has been in the woods,” Department of Public Safety spokesman Stephen McCausland said Friday. “It is our best guess that the man seen running on the ATV trail Wednesday probably was him.”

Newport police Lt. Randy Wing agreed. When officers arrested Goodrich Jr. they found a camouflage jacket in a coat room at the restaurant that matched the description of one worn by a man sighted in the woods Wednesday afternoon.

A waitress at the 24-hour Big Stop said she sensed something amiss about Goodrich Jr., who seated himself alone at a corner booth at about 12:30 a.m. Friday.

The waitress, whose manager would not allow her to be identified, said red flags went up with the way Goodrich Jr. ordered coffee.

“He asked, ‘Are there refills?’” the waitress said. “Then he said ‘Do you want the money right now?’ I told him no, take your time … and he said, ‘I’m just going to drink coffee for a half-hour.’”

Goodrich Jr. was the only customer in the store.

Besides the peculiar exchange, the waitress thought she recognized him. She told a cook and a cashier, then took out Thursday’s Bangor Daily News, where she had seen Goodrich Jr.’s picture.

“I don’t know what did it,” she said. “That was the only time I’d ever seen his picture.”

She had to be sure, because calling police on an innocent trucker was her “worst fear,” she said. She decided to try for a better look. She chatted with Goodrich Jr., who was wearing a green sweatshirt, jeans, boots and a camouflage baseball cap, which he removed when he sat down.

“I never made eye contact with him even though I was talking to him,” she said. “He said he had a truck warming up out back. That’s when I really worried that I was going to be wrong.”

But she and the other employees, a cook, a cashier and a manager, decided not to take the chance. The cashier called 911 at 12:39 a.m., according to Newport police Cpl. Allen Graves. Patrol Officer Stephen Morrell, who joined the department full time earlier this month, was the first to arrive at the restaurant. Graves, a veteran of 25 years, arrived two minutes later. The Newport Big Stop is just off Interstate 95 in a busy business area. Behind the restaurant is a large parking lot where numerous big rigs were parked.

The officers observed Goodrich Jr. through a window.

“I was probably 90 percent sure it was him,” Graves said. “When I got close enough I made a positive identification.”

The waitress said the officers came in together and told her to stay out of the way. They approached Goodrich from different angles with their guns drawn.

“He was cooperative,” said Graves. “He complied with all our commands.”

As Graves and Morrell led a handcuffed Goodrich Jr. out of the restaurant, he asked them to take some money out of his back pocket to pay the waitress for the coffee, which they didn’t allow.

“For someone who seemed so violent in what he did, he was totally complacent and cooperative,” said the waitress. “I was surprised at that.”

Public affected

Goodrich Jr. was turned over to Maine State Police at 1:07 a.m. and taken to Bangor for questioning.

McCausland declined to comment about what explanation Goodrich Jr. had, if any, about where he’d been. “What he has told us or hasn’t told us is not something we’ll talk about publicly,” said McCausland.

Asked how Goodrich managed to avoid capture with as many as 55 officers, police canines and aircraft looking for him, McCausland said he didn’t know. He said hunters might be the ones to provide answers as the firearms season for deer hunting begins today.

McCausland asked hunters in the area to watch for camping equipment or any evidence that someone had been staying at a particular location. Among the items being sought are the firearms Goodrich Jr. allegedly took from his family’s home, which have yet to be located. McCausland urged caution around any potential evidence.

“We would prefer that if anyone sees anything that they note its location in the best manner they can and let the state police actually recover the items,” he said.

Officers involved in the search over the past few days said that much of the terrain was thick or marshy. A resident of Pratt Road said Goodrich Jr. has visited those woods for years. One rumor that circulated this week was that Goodrich Jr. claimed he knew of caves or other shelters where he could hunker down.

Wherever he’s been, many in the community are glad Goodrich Jr. is behind bars. A woman who lives on Pratt Road said during a telephone interview Friday that this has been a stressful week.

“It feels better now that they’ve caught him,” said the woman, who asked not to be identified. “I knew he was out there somewhere.”

Town Manager James Ricker said the buzz that’s surrounded the town office all week continued Friday, albeit on a different tack.

“There’s a collective sigh of relief throughout the community,” said Ricker. “We’ve been talking to a number of parents whose children were coming home and saying they can’t go out and play because there’s a murderer outside. It was a horrendous crime, and at least it ended with his arrest and without hurting anybody else.”

Ricker singled out the employees at the Newport Big Stop for their courage.

“It’s the few who really involve themselves and really pay attention who are the true heroes of any community,” said Ricker, the town’s former police chief. “If you’re reporting these things, you’re as much an arm of law enforcement as the police are. That’s a brave step for somebody not involved in the criminal justice system to take.”

Although authorities said they had had no confirmed sightings of Goodrich Jr., they searched a wooded area in northern Newport several times on the theory that the suspect was hiding there and evading capture.

The waitress said Goodrich Jr.’s clothes and hair looked clean and that there was no mud on his boots.

“He totally didn’t look like he’d been in the woods for three days,” she said.

Newport’s Lt. Wing said there was no doubt that the woods are where Goodrich has been, though.

“The officers did find [at the restaurant] the camouflage jacket that matched the description of the sighting we had Thursday,” said Wing, who added that Goodrich Jr. could have cleaned up “almost anywhere,” including an abandoned house or even his family’s home, the scene of the crime.

Court appearance

Goodrich Jr. appeared emaciated Friday afternoon at his initial court appearance in Penobscot County Superior Court in Bangor. Dressed in a red jail-issued jumpsuit, he answered, “Yes, sir,” when Justice John Nivison asked whether he understood the charges filed against him.

The defendant seemed to become confused when asked if he understood that Jeffrey Silverstein of Bangor had been appointed to represent him. After consulting with Silverstein, Goodrich Jr. told the judge he understood what was happening and agreed to have Silverstein represent him.

After the brief hearing, Assistant Attorney General Andrew Benson, who is prosecuting the case, declined to discuss the details of the case.

Silverstein said, “My client is in a very compromised position physically, emotionally and, perhaps, mentally. He’s spent several days out wandering in the woods without food or water. He’s very weak, tired and beaten up physically.”

The defense attorney said that Goodrich Jr. had been seeking medical care and treatment but had not received the care he believed he needed.

“He made it clear to me that he’d been seeking help for a long time,” Silverstein said, and that his client “has been informed of what happened and is aware he’s been charged.”

Silverstein declined to say whether his client had confessed to killing his father and beating his mother.

The defense attorney said that he and Benson most likely would decide in the near future whether or not to ask the court to order a psychological examination to determine if Goodrich Jr. is capable of participating in his own defense.

A status conference is expected to be held in four to six weeks, Justice Nivison said.

A trial date has not been set.

If convicted, Goodrich Jr. faces a sentence of 25 years to life on the murder charge and up to 30 years in prison on the assault charge.

Reporter Judy Harrison contributed to this report.

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