The man who allegedly killed a sheriff's deputy in central Maine was captured Saturday after a four-day manhunt that involved hundreds of law enforcement officials and left several communities on edge.
John Williams, 29, was arrested at 12:43 p.m. by a seven-man team of officials from the Maine Warden Service, Maine State Police, the Fairfield Police Department, and the FBI, State Police Lieutenant Colonel John Cote said at a news conference Saturday afternoon.
The team found Williams outside a campground in a wooded area near Route 139 in Norridgewock, the same small town where Williams allegedly shot and killed Somerset County Deputy Corporal Eugene Cole early Wednesday, Cote said.
The search team had previously found tracks and signs of movement suggesting Williams was in the wooded area. The team members were preparing to search the campground when they found the suspect, Cote said.
Williams, whose last known address was in Madison, Maine, also has ties to Massachusetts. The same day that he allegedly killed Cole, Williams was scheduled to appear in Haverhill District Court for a probable cause hearing on firearms and driving charges.
Massachusetts State Police arrested Williams on Interstate 495 in Haverhill on March 22, where officers allegedly found two handguns in the trunk of his car. Williams was arraigned that day and released March 31 on $5,000 bail.
A default warrant was issued for him after he failed to appear in court Wednesday, and prosecutors will continue to pursue the case, said Carrie Kimball Monahan, a spokeswoman for the Essex district attorney's office.
After his arrest, Williams was put in the handcuffs of Cole, the deputy he allegedly killed, and was taken to the Waterville Police Department to be interviewed by detectives after emergency medical service personnel found that he had not suffered any injuries, Cote said.
The Maine attorney general's office will prosecute the case, Cote said. Williams is expected to appear in court early next week, he said.
"I am extremely relieved that we have Williams in custody," Somerset Sheriff Dale P. Lancaster said. "I am extremely saddened by the death of my deputy, and I can tell you those feelings are not only shared by myself, but by my own deputies and all of law enforcement."
Lancaster praised Cole as an "outstanding officer" who had strong bonds with the community.
"We know Gene would have been here every day, bringing his best effort to apprehend the suspect," Lancaster said.
The sheriff also thanked community members for their patience and support while law enforcement searched for Williams.
"Tonight, the citizens of Somerset County can sleep well and know that a dangerous man has been taken off the streets," Lancaster said.
After the shooting between 1 and 2 a.m. Wednesday, Williams allegedly stole Cole's cruiser and drove it to a Cumberland Farms gas station, where he committed an armed robbery before fleeing the scene. The cruiser was found around 5 a.m. in Norridgewock, police said.
In a statement before Williams was arrested Saturday, Sheryl Cole, the wife of the slain deputy, pleaded with Williams to turn himself in to police or to at least speak with them.
She told Williams that "this is all that we're asking of you — please, please talk to us," according to the Associated Press. Williams would be treated with "dignity and respect," she promised.
Visiting hours for Cole have been scheduled from 4 to 7 p.m. May 6 at the Skowhegan Armory, according to an obituary posted on the website dignitymemorial.com. It said a celebration of life will be held at noon May 7 at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor.
Attempts to reach Sheryl Cole for comment after the arrest were not successful.
A memorial fund for the Cole family has been established at Bangor Savings Bank in Skowhegan, Maine, according to the Maine Association of Police.
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.