Helen Carver, the 83-year-old killed in her Owls Head home Thursday afternoon, was remembered this weekend as a kind person with a strong faith and deep ties to her community.
“She was a very nice old lady. She’d never hurt anybody. She’s just as nice as can be,” Carolyn Philbrook, who attended the Owls Head Baptist Church with Carver, said Saturday. “She lived alone, and did get by with a wheelchair and walker. She’d come to church, even though she had a hard time getting around. She was very thoughtful and thankful to people who helped her out.”
The news of her death, and of the arrest Friday afternoon of a local woman in connection with it, has been shocking, Philbrook said. Police said that Carver, who died of blunt force trauma, had hired Sarah Richards, 37, of South Thomaston, to shovel her walkway during the winter. Richards was charged in connection with her death and is now being held at Knox County Jail in Rockland. She is expected to make her first court appearance on Monday.
“It’s kind of affected everybody in the town,” Philbrook said. “Nothing’s happened like this before, ever.”
Carver’s niece, Donna Atkinson of Wilsonville, Oregon, said that the family — far-flung but still close — is also struggling to come to terms with what happened in Owls Head.
“She was a kind person,” she said of her aunt. “It’s just devastating.”
Carver and her late husband, Robert Carver, operated Carver’s Market in Thomaston from 1977 until 1989, according to his obituary. They were married for 55 years until his death in 2012, and had children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Helen Carver lived in a home that had been in their family for generations, Atkinson said.
“They’d been in that community for a long time,” she said.
After Robert Carver died, Helen Carver joined the Owls Head Baptist Church, according to John Walker, a church member who used to help her get around.
“She was a good friend,” he said. “She was chair bound. She could not walk unaided, and had a walker even in her house. But she was never, ‘Oh, I hurt,’ or anything like that. She was always stoic about it.”
She also made it a point to come to church, located not far from her house, whenever she could. At first she walked with the help of a walker. When she couldn’t do that anymore, she’d catch a ride with Walker, who said that she did not let her infirmity keep her from being a full participant in the community.
“She’d taken over the card committee, which means that if you’re even remotely connected to Owls Head Baptist Church, she’d personally send you a card on your birthday,” he said. “She was outstanding that way.”
He would go grocery shopping for her, but she still cooked for herself.
“She was pretty independent,” Walker said. “She was just a nice person. A good person. Good to be around, and never had an unkind word about anybody.”
All of which makes what happened to her even harder to understand.
“She’s in a better place. Her faith was strong, but to have that happen — it all makes me very sad,” Walker said. “There’s a sense of loss. There’s a void there.”
There will be an informal community gathering at the church at 1 p.m. Sunday, for people to remember Carver and to share some of their emotions about her death, Philbrook said.
“It’s a healing process type get-together,” she said.