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Caribou episode raises awareness to workplace violence in Maine

BANGOR, Maine (AP) January 9, 2005 — The death of a coffee shop employee in Caribou will likely be used by businesses and state agencies to examine whether there were any warning signs and whether the victim’s death could have been prevented.

Police have arrested a co-worker and charged him in the death of Erin Sperrey. If her assailant is convicted, Sperrey would become the first person to be murdered by a co-worker in Maine in at least 12 years.

Compared to other states, Maine has few on-the-job homicides. Between 1992 and this week, six people had been killed as a result of assaults or violent acts while at work. Nationally, 560 people were killed just last year.

Those deaths were at the hands of customers or individuals who knew the victims, such as a spouse in situations where domestic violence spilled into the workplace.

But a death caused by a co-worker is an anomaly.

"In Maine, you’re far more likely to be killed by someone who loves you or loved you than by any other cause," said Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Maine State Police.

Sperrey, a 20-year-old supervisor at Tim Hortons coffee shop in Caribou, was beaten and kicked to death last Sunday, allegedly by a recent hire who had a crush on his supervisor.

Christopher Shumway, a 19-year-old who grew up in Athol, Mass., was charged with murder two days later and is being held without bail at Aroostook County Jail.

Sperrey’s mother, Johna Lovely, said Shumway asked her daughter several times to go out with him on dates. Sperrey, who had a boyfriend, was too polite to tell Shumway no but instead made up excuses about why she couldn’t go out with him, Lovely said.

It’s not known whether store management knew of the situation before they were scheduled to work together or whether Shumway’s actions rose to the level of sexual harassment.

Nick Javor, vice president of corporate affairs for Tim Hortons in Toronto, and Troy Chamberlain, the owner of the Caribou franchise, have declined to publicly comment on Shumway’s personnel history.

Javor, who says the chain has a zero tolerance policy for workplace violence, believes Shumway may have "snapped." "It’s just me talking, but when somebody snaps, how do you pick that up?" he said.

In Maine, approximately 210 assaults occurred in workplaces in both 2002 and 2003, according to the labor department. Many of them were in health care facilities.

"It’s the responsibility of every employer to provide a strong, safe and secure worker environment," said Portland Police Chief Michael Chitwood. "It’s up to the employer to do this not only for the employee but for the customer it serves."

Too often, he said, businesses seek advice after a violent situation has occurred, such as a robbery, assault or a fight between two workers. "Unfortunately it’s almost always a reactive approach," Chitwood said.

Sperrey’s mother knows what she wants businesses to do to prevent workplace violence. She wants more security devices including panic buttons — silent alarms — that alert police departments when someone is in danger.

"Had there been a panic button, Erin would have been able to push it," Lovely said. "The first instance when he pushed her, she could have pressed the panic button to alert the police."

Lovely is establishing a fund in her daughter’s memory to purchase security devices for businesses that employ younger workers. She also wants the Legislature to make it mandatory for businesses to have security equipment in place to protect employees.

Tim Hortons in Caribou did not have security cameras or a panic button alarm that Sperrey could have pushed to alert police, according to Caribou police.

Loveley said she hopes her daughter’s death is the last one to occur at a workplace. "The first thing I said was I do not want this to happen again," Lovely said. "I do not ever, ever want to see someone else feel like I do right now."

———

Information from: Bangor Daily News, http://www.bangornews.com


Workplace slaying a wake-up call

January 08, 2005 - Bangor Daily News - If Erin Sperrey was killed last Sunday by a man she worked with, as court records suggest, she is the first person to be murdered by a co-worker in Maine in at least 12 years. It's a situation that undoubtedly will be used by businesses and state agencies to examine whether there were any warning signs and whether her death could have been prevented.

Sperrey, a 20-year-old supervisor at Tim Hortons coffee shop in Caribou, was beaten and kicked to death last Sunday, allegedly by a recent hire who had a crush on his boss.

Christopher Shumway, a 19-year-old who grew up in Athol, Mass., was charged with murder two days later and is being held without bail at Aroostook County Jail. A

formal bail hearing is pending.

Sperrey did not like Shumway, telling her sister, Amanda

McKnight, that she thought he was "creepy." Too polite to say no to his date requests, Sperrey instead made up excuses as to why she couldn't go out with Shumway.

One time within the last month, however, she agreed to meet him. She stood him up.

What is not known is whether Sperrey's bosses knew she was uncomfortable with Shumway's advances before they scheduled the two to work the 3-11 p.m. shift last Sunday.

Also not known is whether Shumway's infatuation became actions that could be viewed as sexual harassment.

Steve Smith, a Bangor attorney representing Shumway, did not want to talk to reporters about his client this week.

Nick Javor, vice president of corporate affairs for Tim Hortons in Toronto, and Troy Chamberlain, owner of the Caribou franchise, also would not comment this week on Shumway's personnel history.

Tim Hortons has never experienced a worker-killing-co-worker situation.

"We're still very numb about this obscene tragedy that happened," Javor said. "Workplace violence, which is what this is, is very rare."

On-the-job violence

Compared to other states, Maine has few on-the-job homicides.

Between 1992 and this week, six people had been killed as a result of assaults or violent acts while at work. Nationally, 560 people were killed just last year.

The Maine deaths were at the hands of customers or individuals who knew the victims, such as a spouse in situations where domestic violence spilled into the workplace.

But a death caused by a co-worker is an anomaly.

"In Maine, you're far more likely to be killed by someone who loves you or loved you than by any other cause," said Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Maine State Police.

Because of Maine's low rate of on-the-job murders, no one ever would have predicted what happened to Sperrey last Sunday.

"It somehow strikes us here in Maine that it's something that happens someplace else," said Dick Grotten, executive director of the Maine Restaurant Association. "Businesses are of two minds: that these are highly isolated incidences, and [that] there's no way around it."

Warning signs

It is still not clear why Shumway allegedly killed Sperrey. Police will not say whether robbery was the motive even though $1,200 of the store's receipts was missing.

The attack started when Sperrey went into the shop's freezer. Shumway followed, pushed Sperrey down, struck her on the head and took her car keys, according to a state police affidavit.

Once outside the freezer, Shumway told police that he apologized for his actions and gave Sperrey her keys back. Sperrey said she had to leave and the two struggled.

Shumway told police that he then started to strangle Sperrey.

"She was fighting for her life," the affidavit quoted Shumway.

Tim Hortons vice president Javor said that he believes Shumway may have "snapped."

"It's just me talking, but when somebody snaps, how do you pick that up?" Javor asked.

Strange or out-of-the-ordinary behavior by an employee is considered a warning sign of a potential problem, according to Portland Police Chief Michael Chitwood. Other signs include verbal or nonverbal threats, changes in an employee's belief system, and lack of concern for the safety of others.

The Maine Merchants Association, which publishes workplace safety tips in its newsletter, also believes that unusual conversations should not be ignored.

"We've gotten down to the point of telling people not to overlook what appears to be petty workplace arguments," said Jim McGregor, executive vice president of the Maine Merchants Association. "Don't overlook them and tell the managers that they'll work themselves out."

Chitwood said he believes the "ultimate responsibility" falls on businesses to ensure that they have created and maintain a safe work environment. Nationally, more than a half-million people each year are hurt by a violent act, resulting in 1.8 million lost work hours and $55 million in lost wages, he said.

In Maine, approximately 210 assaults occurred in workplaces in both 2002 and 2003, according to the labor department. Many of them were in health care facilities.

"It's the responsibility of every employer to provide a strong, safe and secure worker environment," Chitwood said. "It's up to the employer to do this not only for the employee but for the customer it serves."

Too often, he said, businesses seek advice on how to improve their workplaces after a violent situation has occurred, such as a robbery, assault or a fight between two workers.

"Unfortunately it's almost always a reactive approach," Chitwood said. "This isn't rocket science."

Javor of Tim Hortons said the 40-year-old chain of more than 2,000 locations has zero-tolerance for workplace violence. He would not discuss the company's security plans in detail.

"We definitely have established security measures and procedures in place," he said.

Prevention

Fast-food chains or convenience stores have a higher degree of risk for workplace violence, which usually is brought on by a customer, according to Adam Fisher, spokesman for the Maine Department of Labor.

Other occupations or workplaces more susceptible to violent acts are ones with a high-degree of customer interaction, places where money regularly is being exchanged, where goods or services are being delivered, and where people work alone or late at night.

But fast-food chains and convenience stores also have a high level of employee turnover or they face difficulties in trying to find enough workers. That's challenging when one of the most important steps in preventing workplace violence is taking time to screen job applicants, according to Chitwood.

For $25, an employer can contact the State Bureau of Identification, a division of the Maine State Police, and have a criminal record check performed. Local police departments also will conduct background checks for a fee.

"One of the best ways to avoid workplace violence is looking at who did you hire," Chitwood said. "More and more I ask people if they checked the [job applicant's] record, and they say, 'well, no.' More often than not you're rolling the dice with these people."

But businesses sometimes do not have a clear picture as to how much information they can obtain under the law about a job applicant, according to McGregor of the merchants association.

"A lot of businesses walk a fine line on how much they can dwell on somebody's past life," McGregor said. "There are more and more privacy issues about how much of a person's private life people can go after. But as much as possible, they certainly should look at who they are hiring."

Another step in preventing workplace violence is to create a policy as to what types of behaviors are and are not permissible. Most businesses have workplace safety plans in place and train workers on their importance. Some companies encourage workers who are experiencing changes in their moods or behavior to attend outside counseling programs.

"I suspect most businesses have policies in place," said McCausland of the Maine State Police. "This day and age it would surprise me if a business did not have some policy in place. Or they should."

Education regarding the warning signs of potential violence is another key to a secure workplace, experts say.

In October, the Department of Public Safety presented a daylong workshop for businesses, state agencies and social service groups to learn what they could do to create a safe and supportive business environment.

The focus was on domestic violence and what happens when it enters the workplace. In the Bangor area, most workplace assaults are domestic related, said Bangor Police Chief Don Winslow.

The last workplace death in Bangor occurred in January 1989 when Hampden resident Patricia Crowley was shot to death at her desk at Bangor Travel Agency by her husband, James Crowley, who then turned the gun on himself.

In May, the Department of Labor will present its version of a symposium on workplace violence and deaths. At this one, all forms of violence - from domestic to worker-on-worker - will be addressed.

Sperrey's case may come up.

"We encourage people to attend this because it shows ways to prevent workplace injuries and deaths," said Steve Laundrie, a statistician with the Bureau of Labor Standards.

Panic buttons

Sperrey's mother, Johna Lovely, knows what she wants businesses to do to prevent workplace violence - install security devices including panic buttons, silent alarms that will alert police departments that someone is in danger.

"Had there been a panic button, Erin would have been able to push it," Lovely said. "The first instance when he pushed her, she could have pressed the panic button to alert the police."

Lovely is establishing a fund in her daughter's memory to purchase security devices for businesses that employ younger workers. She also wants the state Legislature to make it mandatory that all businesses have security equipment in place to protect its employees.

Tim Hortons in Caribou did not have security cameras or a panic button alarm installed that Sperrey could have pushed to alert police that she was in danger, according to Caribou police.

Even if the silent alarm was there, police may have been slow in arriving, according to Lt. Michael Gahagan of the Caribou Police Department, who was one of the first officers at Sunday's crime scene.

Most of the silent alarms in use in Caribou are installed at banks and they are pushed often, he said. Tellers either brush up against them or press them by accident. The same thing happens with the 9-1-1 emergency telephone system.

"A few years ago, we had 365 false alarms in a year," Gahagan said. "We end up being complacent. People push it and it's a false alarm and police respond like it's not a real thing."

Gahagan said businesses that do install silent alarms need to train their employees on when is the best time to use them, and police officers need to be better trained to recognize when the call is a false alarm and when it's a sure sign of an emergency.

"One of these days it's going to happen," he said.

Lovely said she hopes that one of the panic buttons she is encouraging businesses to install is used during the next "real thing." Her daughter's death should be the last one to occur at a workplace.

"The first thing I said was I do not want this to happen again," Lovely said about creating the workplace-security fund. "I do not ever, ever want to see someone else feel like I do right now."


Grief turns to focus on worker safety

By Deborah Turcotte and Beurmond Banville, Of the NEWS Staff

January 07, 2005 - Bangor Daily News - CARIBOU — Nobody knew that Erin Sperrey was dying in the restroom of the Tim Hortons coffee shop last Sunday night. Nobody with the possible exception of her alleged killer, co-worker Christopher Shumway, who has been charged with his supervisor’s murder.

Sperrey was unable to push a panic button, a silent alarm that would alert Caribou police that she was in danger. The police said there wasn’t one inside the store. No security cameras either.

Taxi drivers perched across from the Bennett Drive doughnut shop were able to look through the store’s windows while sitting in their parked vehicles. They saw Shumway helping customers even after he beat and kicked his 20-year-old supervisor, actions he admitted to the Maine State Police.

What they didn’t see was the actual beating or Shumway pulling Sperrey’s body into her car. The grisly attack happened in a walk-in cooler and restroom located in the back of the store. Sperrey’s car was behind the building, out of the taxi drivers’ range of sight.

There was no recording of the event for the Caribou police to use as evidence, according to Lt. Michael Gahagan, who was one of the first officers at the crime scene. The police checked for security cameras outside a Katahdin Trust branch located next door to Tim Hortons. None could be found.

Family and friends will gather today for Sperrey’s funeral. They will mourn a kind-hearted young woman who was looking toward her future — a daughter, a sister, a girlfriend who wanted to study computer-aided drafting and was excelling in her career at Tim Hortons.

Then the family intends to create Sperrey’s legacy — making workplaces safer for younger employees.

Sperrey’s mother, Johna Loveley, will insist that all businesses have security devices such as panic buttons and surveillance cameras. She wants the Legislature to make it mandatory.

“My daughter was 5 feet tall and 90 pounds,” Lovely said Thursday, hours before her daughter’s memorial service. “There was no way she could protect herself. Had there been a panic button, Erin would have been able to push it. The first instance when he pushed her, she could have pressed the panic button to alert the police.”

Lovely is creating a fund in her daughter’s memory to buy security devices for businesses even if they can afford to purchase the items themselves. Contributors have been sending money to Lovely, but next week she is going to set up a bank account where donations can be accepted.

“When I get back to being a person again, I’m going to do that,” she said.

Tim Hortons in Caribou will not be accepting money from the fund, Lovely said.

“They told me they don’t want any of our fund money because they’ll do it themselves,” she said.

Nick Javor, Tim Hortons vice president of corporate affairs in Toronto, said he would not comment in detail on security procedures at the chain. Troy Chamberlain owns the Caribou franchise and also would not comment.

“We definitely have established security measures and procedures,” Javor said Thursday. “Rest assured, we absolutely have safety procedures for our staff.”

‘Creepy’

Tim Hortons also is not divulging any information about Shumway, the former Athol, Mass., resident who recently moved to Caribou with his mother and worked for the coffee shop for a few months. Javor said “now is not the time” to discuss Shumway’s employment history and whether he was a troubled worker.

“He snapped,” Javor did say. “That’s my language.”

Two of Tim Hortons top three executives will attend Sperrey’s funeral today, Javor said.

Shumway had a crush on Sperrey and asked her out several times on dates, according to her family. Her mother said Sperrey was too polite to say no to Shumway but instead made up excuses as to why she couldn’t go out with him. Sperrey had a boyfriend, Kevin Wilcox, 20, of Caribou.

One day about a month ago, Lovely said, her daughter agreed to meet with Shumway outside of work. Instead, she stood him up by going to a friend’s house.

“He came to the friend’s house and was having little fits,” Lovely said. “I don’t know how you would describe it.”

Lovely, a counselor at Northern Maine Community College, knew Shumway as a student at the school. But she didn’t know just how attracted he was to her daughter or how concerned Erin was about Shumway’s advances.

“Erin apparently didn’t want me to worry,” Lovely said. “She talked to her sister [Amanda McKnight] for some time about how creepy he was.”

McKnight said that her sister was not fearful of Shumway but that she did mention that Shumway was upset that she turned down his date requests.

“She was not really afraid of him,” McKnight said. “There was no way she could expect him to get violent.”

It is not known whether Chamberlain or other Tim Hortons managers knew about Shumway and his interest in Sperrey, or whether they knew she had concerns about him.

If they did, the information should not have been ignored, said Gahagan of the Caribou police.

“Knowing this guy, I wouldn’t have brushed it off,” he said.

In Athol, Shumway did not have a girlfriend. Dave Runyan, an acquaintance who lived down the street from him, said Shumway was a “straight-edged kid” who sometimes smoked, drank and tried marijuana.

“I’m still in shock about the whole thing,” said Runyan, during a telephone interview Thursday evening.

McKnight said Sperrey’s family does not want to talk about Shumway for a while.

“We want people to know who Erin was,” she said. “This monster hurt her, but this was just one day in her life.”

McKnight said her sister was a “special person” who volunteered to work with children and elderly people.

“She was kind and caring with prejudice against no one,” she said. “That’s why it’s hard to see that anyone would do something like that to her.”

Sperrey was one of three children of Johna Sperrey and Kevin Sperrey. Johna now is married to Kim Lovely. Along with McKnight, Erin Sperrey had a brother, Taylor, and a stepbrother.

McKnight said her sister was planning to go back to school next fall to study computer-aided drafting at Northern Maine Community College in Presque Isle.

“[Erin] had decided she was ready to grow up a little bit and settle down,” McKnight said. “She wanted to build a better life for herself. [She was] a beautiful, unique soul, very spiritual, touched by God.”

Safety on the job?

While Lovely is seeking money to protect workers from violence while on the job, her daughter’s boyfriend, Kevin Wilcox, was charged last year with robbing, criminally using a disabling chemical, and assaulting a former boss, Wayne Langley, owner of Rendezvous Restaurant in Limestone, last July 31.

Sperrey had a protection from abuse order against Wilcox in early 2004.

According to Langley, Wilcox was a former restaurant employee who was familiar with his schedule, such as when Langley went home from work.

Langley said Wilcox and two other men allegedly waited for him outside his home, then robbed him and sprayed him with Mace. A “substantial amount” of money was taken.

“They knew I was going home and they waited for me,” Langley said. “I don’t feel as comfortable as I used to, like when I go home. I think about that it could happen again.”

The case is pending in Aroostook County Superior Court.

Wilcox’s record also includes assault and two counts of disorderly conduct, all in 2003; and three counts of operating after suspension, one count of driving to endanger, failing to stop for an officer and violating conditions of release, all in 2004.

Wilcox could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Langley said he saw Wilcox on television talking about his girlfriend’s murder and remembered what happened to him allegedly at the hands of Wilcox. Both cases involved two workers attacked by current or former employees.

“Things are getting kind of bad, huh,” Langley said.


Affidavit describes grisly slaying
Murder suspect in court

January 05, 2005 - Bangor Daily News - CARIBOU - The pretty, young night supervisor at the Tim Hortons restaurant was savagely beaten and left to die in the employee bathroom Sunday night while her alleged assailant waited on customers at the counter and drive-through window, according to a court document. After Erin Sperrey, 20, of Presque Isle was beaten to death, her body was dragged from the bloody bathroom of the Bennett Drive doughnut shop and placed in the back seat of her car.

Shortly after midnight, her body was found by police in the abandoned car 120 miles south on Interstate 95 near Lincoln.

The state medical examiner's office said Tuesday that an autopsy determined Sperrey had died of "multiple traumatic injuries."

According to a court affidavit presented Tuesday morning to Justice E. Allen Hunter in Aroostook County Superior Court, Christopher Shumway, 19, of Caribou told police he had beaten the young woman with his hands and feet and strangled her, leaving her to die in the bathroom while he waited on customers.

The court document points to robbery as a motive for the slaying, although police would not speculate on that possibility. Shumway admitted taking the cash box from the restaurant, according to the affidavit. Another employee verified that $1,200, including currency and rolled coins, was missing from the employee office.

Shumway made his initial court appearance on charges of murder and violation of probation. He was ordered held without bail.

A hearing to determine bail, if any, will be held within five days. During Tuesday's court session, which lasted about 10 minutes, Shumway was told he wasn't expected to enter a plea and that he shouldn't make any statements. Justice Hunter also told Shumway that an attorney would be appointed to represent him.

Shumway tried to hang himself while police waited outside his motel room on Monday in Bangor, where he was apprehended, according to the affidavit. Jim Foss, Aroostook County Jail administrator, said Tuesday afternoon he could not say whether Shumway was on a suicide watch while in jail because of the confidentiality of medical records.

Aroostook County Sheriff James Madore said later that Shumway is "being watched closely."

In court

During the hearing, Sperrey's parents, Johna Lovely of Presque Isle and Kevin Sperrey of Mapleton were supported by 22 family members and friends. Lovely, with the hands of her husband, Kim Lovely, around her shoulders, sobbed and cried during the short hearing, her face showing the strain of the previous 36 hours.

Kevin Sperrey, sitting in a side seat, also showed the strain of losing his daughter. His face was drawn and flushed red.

"She was just a great person," Amanda Sperrey, Erin Sperrey's sister, said outside the courtroom. "I just don't know how anyone can do something like this to another person."

No family members apparently were in court to support Shumway.

Shumway, his hands and feet shackled, was subdued during his initial appearance. Dressed in Aroostook County Jail garb of gray T-shirt and pants, he was nearly inaudible when he answered "yes" when asked if he understood the charge against him. His dark hair was cropped within a half-inch of his scalp.

The young man stood motionless in front of Justice Hunter, lifting his eyes only a couple of times from the floor and his canvas prison shoes.

Security in the courtroom was tight. Six plainclothes detectives stood in the courtroom, while three uniformed Aroostook County deputy sheriffs stood next to Shumway and between him and the exit from the courtroom.

Lt. Dennis Appleton, head of the Maine State Police Criminal Investigation Division in northern Maine, said just before the court hearing that there was nothing new in the investigation of the case.

Both Sperrey and Shumway had been working at Tim Hortons for several months since late summer. She was the night shift supervisor, and he was a staff member.

Shumway was on probation in connection with a misdemeanor charge of harassment by telephone sometime last year. The charge didn't involve Sperrey, according to authorities. Shumway lived with his mother in Caribou.

Sperrey, who was unmarried, was a lifelong resident of the Washburn-Mapleton area and was living in Presque Isle.

She was described by a former teacher as a warm person who worked hard in life.

"She always had a smile and was a very warm person," Dave Bartlett, director of the Alternative Education School at Presque Isle High School, remembered Tuesday morning. "She was one of our success stories here. She was self-motivated, a very hard worker," he said. "She worked with prekindergarten children during her senior year on a program she developed, and the kids loved her."

She took a college-level course on childhood development to help herself with that program, he said. Sperrey graduated from the school in 2002.

He said her death was hard on faculty who knew her and on her classmates, some of whom had called Bartlett since the news of her death surfaced Monday morning.

The affidavit

The police affidavit filed by state police Detective Darryl J. Pelletier describes Shumway's alleged killing of Sperrey.

Shumway reportedly told his grisly story to state police Detectives Anna Fizel and Jay Peary after he was arrested at 6:45 a.m. Monday at Motel 6 on outer Hammond Street in Bangor.

According to the affidavit, Shumway's attack started when Sperrey went into the shop's freezer during the 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. shift. Shumway followed her, pushed her down, and Sperrey struck her head.

He took Sperrey's car keys from her before they left the freezer. Outside the freezer, Shumway told police he apologized for his actions and gave Sperrey back her keys. Sperrey said she had to leave, and the two struggled. Sperrey was screaming, according to the affidavit.

Shumway told police he started to strangle Sperrey: "She was fighting for her life," the document stated.

"The fight moved into the bathroom. Shumway kicked Sperrey in the head, mouth and chest. Blood came out of Sperrey's mouth," the statement reads.

"Shumway left Sperrey in the bathroom to wait on customers at the counter and drive-through. When Shumway left Sperrey she was breathing and when Shumway returned, Sperrey was not breathing. Shumway dragged Sperrey out to her car and put her in the back seat," according to the statement.

Shumway then took the store's cash box from the office, drove to Fort Fairfield for gas and cigarettes and continued to drive south.

Crime unravels

The murder and robbery started to unravel hours before Shumway lost control of Sperrey's car on I-95 just north of Lincoln and ended up in the median strip down a 20-foot embankment.

Shortly before 8 p.m., Corey Searles and his girlfriend, Laura Cyr, stopped at the drive-through of the Caribou restaurant. Getting no response at both drive-through windows, Searles entered the doughnut shop and called out without getting a response. Cyr contacted her father, Joe Cyr, a retired U.S. Border Patrol agent.

Joe Cyr called the Caribou Police Department, and Officer Douglas Bell searched the restaurant, finding no one. He observed blood in the bathroom and the disarray of the office and then called restaurant manager Marie Possocco, who ascertained that $1,200 was missing. She told police that Sperrey and Shumway were working the shift.

Later, state police Detective Joshua Haines and Trooper Chuck Michaud found blood splattered on the floor by the drive-through window and on the floor behind the counter in the main lobby. Blood was found on the floor of the rear storage area hallway that leads to the employee bathroom, on the bathroom floor, on the wall under the sink and on the toilet seat.

"The blood appeared to be a high velocity, very fine, spatter particles," according to the affidavit. The investigators also found footprints in the blood on the bathroom floor.

The detectives found drag marks on the bathroom floor and in the rear hallway leading to the rear exit of the building. A crumpled contact lens was found on the bathroom floor along with a single silver earring. Inside the freezer, they found bread rolls on the floor and a silver earring matching the one in the bathroom.

A friend of Shumway's, Darlene Dubois, told police that Shumway had talked about robbing a place and using the money to flee to Massachusetts.

Trooper Barry Meserve found the lifeless body of a female in the rear seat of Sperrey's 1999 green Kia at about 12:30 a.m. Monday in the southbound lane of I-95 at mile 231 in Township 2 Range 8.

"The female's face showed signs of a severe beating," according to the affidavit.

Police learned Monday that after Shumway left the restaurant, he headed south in Sperrey's car, losing control of the vehicle in a snowstorm on I-95. A Dedham family driving home from Presque Isle picked up Shumway and gave him a lift to Bangor.

Other detectives with the Bangor Police Department and the state police found out that Shumway had registered at Motel 6 at 2:23 a.m. Monday, just 15 minutes before police inquired. He paid in cash, including rolled coins.

The room was kept under surveillance until 5:08 a.m. when police tried to make contact with the young man. Getting no response and concerned about his well-being, the police made a forced entry.

Shumway was sitting on the bed wearing a shirt and pants, smoking a cigarette, and he had his hands in the air.

He told police they needed a warrant. Police left, keeping the room under surveillance. They returned at 6:45 a.m. and arrested him for Sperrey's murder.

In the interim, according to the affidavit, Shumway tried to hang himself by wrapping the telephone cord around his neck and tying it to a clothes rack. He also inflicted superficial wounds on his forearms with a box cutter.

Funeral services for Sperrey will be held Friday afternoon at a Presque Isle funeral home.

In lieu of flowers, the family has requested donations to establish a fund for businesses to use to install security devices to protect young people working at night for them.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


Dedham traveler reflects on hitchhiker's demeanor

NICK SAMBIDES JR., OF THE NEWS STAFF

January 05, 2005 - Bangor Daily News - DEDHAM - Roland Labbe might not help any more hitchhikers. "I don't know. I'm still debating that one," Labbe said Tuesday. "It's a rough one to call. It makes me nervous. I have helped out quite a few people like that. I know it sucks walking, especially when you're stuck in the middle of a storm like that ... I'll probably be a little more observant next time."

It's been a jittery few days for Labbe since police on Monday charged the hitchhiker he picked up on Interstate 95 in Lincoln late Sunday night with murdering a 20-year-old coffee shop supervisor just a few hours before Labbe spotted him standing alongside the highway.

News that police found the body of Erin Sperrey of Presque Isle on the back seat or floor of the snowbound car Christopher Shumway had abandoned makes Labbe and his family very uneasy.

Labbe's fiancee, Amy Gray, said she got a good look inside the front seat area of the car, which Sperrey owned, and didn't see anything suspicious, although it was at least 50 feet away.

Guilt. Disbelief. Suspicion. Sadness. Bewilderment. Horror. Labbe said he and his family have been touched by all those emotions over the past few days. Labbe didn't get to bed until about 6 a.m. Tuesday, he said, because he couldn't stop thinking about Sperrey and Shumway, who identified himself only as Chris during their ride from Lincoln to Bangor.

"It's really strange, eerie, because he was just calm, cool and collected," Labbe said. "I can't believe it because I want to give the kid the benefit of the doubt."

The incident culminated what has been a strange, stressful year for Labbe, he said. A family member committed suicide this summer; he's moving from Dedham to Presque Isle in midwinter; he's an unemployed carpenter; and he's soon to marry, he said.

And now this.

"It just shows that you never know," he said.

 

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