Belfast officials: Don’t live in fear after crime

Posted Jan. 25, 2010, at 10:39 p.m.

BELFAST, Maine — After an elderly city woman last November allegedly was abducted from her Bell Street home, robbed, had her throat slit with a knife and was left for dead at a remote pond in Knox, local officials waited for an outcry from residents who no longer felt safe in their community.

But they never heard it.

“It’s been almost eerily quiet,” City Manager Joseph Slocum said Monday afternoon. “We really thought we had to break the silence on this one.”

He understands that people perhaps are keeping quiet out of respect for the woman, or just because it is too frightening and difficult to talk about. However, Slocum has a message he would like to broadcast loud and clear to everyone in Belfast.

“We had a really terrible thing happen in this community, and we’re all really offended by it,” he said. “We don’t want people in Belfast to live with fear, period. This awful incident is a reminder to all of us to look out for each other.”

He and Police Chief Jeff Trafton are encouraging residents to take common-sense safety precautions and not to hesitate before calling the police or making a 911 call.

“It’s not a waste of our time,” Trafton said. “We’re here. That’s what we’re paid to do — to respond to those things. If they see something that doesn’t look right, they should call us right away.”

People also can help keep themselves safe by never leaving their doors unlocked, never advertising when they will be away from home, by keeping garage doors shut and locked, and by looking out for neighbors and friends, Trafton said.

He also encourages residents to keep the outside of their homes well-lit and not to let strangers into their homes. Additionally, the Police Department has a house-check program to keep an eye on homes of those who are away for stretches of time.

“Luckily, we live in Maine, and as violent crime goes across the country, Maine is about as safe as it gets,” Trafton said. “But do we still have bad people? Yes, we do.”

Slocum said he thinks about the woman who was attacked “every single day.”

The attack occurred the afternoon of Nov. 24, when Stanley Ward, 22, of Patterson Hill allegedly went to the 72-year-old victim’s home looking for money, according to an affidavit submitted by a police detective. Ward’s father mowed the woman’s lawn, and he knew her.

Ward reportedly became angry, dragged the woman into her bathroom, pushed her to the floor, held the knife to her throat and demanded money. After she gave him money, he allegedly bound her hands with tape and forced her into her car. He then drove 10 miles to a camper trailer off Route 137 in Knox, took her inside, threw her to the floor and cut her throat.

The woman passed out and then eventually woke up enough to begin crawling down a dirt camp road, at one point hiding in the ditch because she thought Ward was coming back for her, according to the affidavit. Once on Route 137, she was discovered and got help.

“I’m repulsed by it. Everybody I know is repulsed by it,” Slocum said. “I’m just so grateful that she survived.”

Ward, who has not made his $500,000 bail, is in Two Bridges Regional Jail in Wiscasset awaiting trial.

Trafton said his understanding is that the victim is recovering.

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