Man arrested in stabbing death of 81-year-old Farmington woman

Posted Nov. 17, 2011, at 9:46 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 27, 2012, at 2:06 p.m.
Juan A. Contreras
Juan A. Contreras
State Police investigators enter the Farmington home of Grace Burton at 195 Fairbanks Road, Apt. 5, in June. Burton, 81, was killed during a home invasion  June 21, 2011.
Ann Bryant | Sun Journal
State Police investigators enter the Farmington home of Grace Burton at 195 Fairbanks Road, Apt. 5, in June. Burton, 81, was killed during a home invasion June 21, 2011.
Lois Seamon holds a picture of herself (right) and Grace Burton, the 81-year-old Farmington woman who was fatally stabbed in her apartment in June 2011. Seamon and Burton were best friends who played cards and attended church together.
Daryn Slover | Sun Journal
Lois Seamon holds a picture of herself (right) and Grace Burton, the 81-year-old Farmington woman who was fatally stabbed in her apartment in June 2011. Seamon and Burton were best friends who played cards and attended church together.
Randi Butterfield (left) and Zack Butterfield break down in Farmington in June 2011 during a plea for public help to find the person responsible for the death of their grandmother, Grace Burton.
Daryn Slover | Sun Journal
Randi Butterfield (left) and Zack Butterfield break down in Farmington in June 2011 during a plea for public help to find the person responsible for the death of their grandmother, Grace Burton.

UPDATE: Contreras is currently in transit to Maine and should arrive Friday evening. His arraignment is set for Monday, according to a news conference held Friday afternoon in Farmington.

FARMINGTON, Maine — A Massachusetts man was arrested Thursday night and charged in the June 21 stabbing death of an 81-year-old Farmington woman in her home, according to a spokesman for Maine State Police.

Juan A. Contreras, 27, of 92 Chester Lane in Waltham, Mass., will be charged with murder in connection with the death of Grace Burton, who was fatally attacked inside her apartment on Fairbanks Road.

Contreras was taken into custody about 6:45 p.m. by Waltham authorities and Massachusetts State Police, according to Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety. Five Maine State Police detectives arrived in Waltham a short time after the arrest was made.

Contreras is being held as a fugitive from justice and will face a murder charge once he is returned to Maine, McCausland said. He will be held at the Waltham Police Department on Thursday night and make his first appearance in a nearby court on Friday.

State police believe Contreras was living in Farmington at the time of Burton’s death, McCausland said. The arrest came after DNA analysis was completed this week at the state police crime lab in Augusta.

Immediately after the attack, Maine State Police reported the assailant had cut through the screen of a rear window to Burton’s first-floor bedroom and got into her apartment through an unlocked window. A struggle ensued and the attacker lost a significant amount of blood, according to state police Lt. Brian McDonough.

Burton was able to call 911 shortly after 1 a.m. to report a man broke into her home at the Margaret Chase Smith Apartments and assaulted her. Burton died later that morning at a Lewiston hospital.

An autopsy confirmed that Grace Burton died of multiple stab wounds, said Brenda Kielty, spokeswoman for the Attorney General’s Office.

An analysis of the blood found at the scene confirmed the attacker was a male and provided a DNA profile. The next month, Maine police said they were collecting DNA samples from men with histories of violence as part of their investigation.

At the time, Farmington Police Chief Jack Peck told the Morning Sentinel of Waterville more than 70 samples had been taken so far and most eliminated the men as suspects. Police were awaiting the results of more tests.

Also in July, Burton’s son Robert Butterfield told the Sun Journal that the family had established a reward fund for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible for her death.

The Associated Press and the Sun Journal contributed to this report.

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