Matinicus Island neighbors subdue intruder into woman’s home, police say

Posted July 31, 2012, at 9:43 a.m.
Last modified July 31, 2012, at 4:54 p.m.

MATINICUS, Maine — A 34-year-old sternman was behind bars Tuesday morning after he forced his way into the home of an island woman and threatened to burn down the house, according to police.

William J. Doniel was subdued by the woman’s neighbors and held until Knox County Sheriff’s Office deputies arrived from both the neighboring island of Vinalhaven and the mainland.

Doniel, a sternman for a local lobsterman, was arrested and charged with aggravated criminal trespass, burglary, terrorizing and criminal mischief, according to Knox County Sheriff Donna Dennison.

The woman heard someone downstairs in her home shortly before 9:30 p.m. She called out for help from neighbors and also used her marine radio to ask for help, Dennison said.

The woman told the man to leave her home but he refused and threatened to burn the house down, she said. The woman reported to police that the man seemed to be under the influence of something.

The woman did not not know the man, the sheriff said.

Several neighbors came and held Doniel until Deputy Larry Hesseltine from Vinalhaven arrived with the assistance of a local fisherman. Deputy John Hansen and Maine Marine Patrol Officer Brian Tolman arrived from the mainland in a marine patrol vessel.

“The island folks are strong, resourceful, and caring,” Dennison said. “Islanders come forward in an instant to help someone in need once more. Living on a remote island may have its disadvantages but the advantages are considerable.”

Matinicus Island is located 22 miles off Rockland. The year-round population is 74 but that swells to 100 during the summer.

Doniel’s bail was set at $500 cash. He remained at the Knox County Jail in Rockland on Tuesday morning.