Widow of slain Maine sheriff’s deputy speaks out; suspect appears in Maine courtroom

Maine State Police detectives lead John Williams to a police cruiser on Saturday after his capture.
Maine State Police detectives lead John Williams to a police cruiser on Saturday after his capture.David Leaning/Waterville Morning Sentinel/AP

Sheryl Cole lost her husband, Somerset County Deputy Corporal Eugene P. Cole, to gunfire last week in the small town in Central Maine where Cole lived and worked as a law enforcement officer for the past 13 years.

In a powerful remembrance of him, Mrs. Cole wrote on Facebook about the last time she saw her husband of 41 years alive, how she spent her time as police worked for four days tracking down Cole's alleged killer, and how she is preparing for her own "new normal."

"I am the wife of Corporal Eugene Cole. I am not a widow (I always told him the 'til death do us part' thing wasn't going to get him out of anything). I am not a victim," she wrote. "With the help and support of my family, my community, and my country, I will get through this. I have to adjust to what will become the new normal."

The alleged shooter, John D. Williams, was ordered held without bail during his initial appearance Monday in an Augusta, Maine, courtroom. Williams was not required to enter a plea. The judge ordered a mental health examination and moved the case to Portland to ensure he gets a fair trial.


The Associated Press reported that Williams stared ahead and quietly answered a judge's questions.

Williams is charged with killing Cole last Wednesday on a darkened road in Norridgewock, Maine. Officials say the 29-year-old Williams also stole Cole's cruiser and robbed a convenience store. Williams was captured Saturday outside a remote cabin after a four-day manhunt.

A Maine State Police affidavit filed in court Monday said a police vehicle — it didn't specify whether it was Cole's — appeared in the early-morning hours as friends were dropping Williams off in front of a house. Cole's body was later found outside the home. The friends described Williams as antsy and having body armor with him.


The document alleged that Williams confessed the crime to a friend, but it didn't clarify Williams's motive. A court-appointed defense lawyer told reporters that he wasn't ready to discuss specifics of the case.

Mrs. Cole wrote in her Facebook post that at times people who look in her direction will see the loss she feels about her husband's death. "When you look at me, you may see the sorrow in my eyes, the reflection of a gold badge with the number 1312 across it,'' she wrote, referring to the badge number for her husband.

Williams was due in Haverhill District Court later on the day Cole was shot to death. He told a friend he did not want to return to Massachusetts because he feared spending 10 years behind bars if convicted for an illegal gun possession charge.

The circumstances of Cole's shooting have not been publicly disclosed. The shooting took place between 1 a.m. and 2 a.m. Williams allegedly then robbed the store while using Cole's cruiser, which was found around 5 a.m. on Martin Stream Road, police said. Cole's body was found around 7:15 a.m. on the lawn of a woman in Norridgewock who helped raise Williams.

In her Facebook posting, Sheryl Cole did not discuss the circumstances of her husband's death. Instead she focused on how the support from neighbors, strangers, law enforcement, and her relatives buoyed her after Cole's murder, and during the days Williams was on the run. She also wrote that she read every word she could find about her husband, with whom she raised four children to adulthood.


"The last five days have been the purest form of hell and torture," she wrote. "The waiting when they couldn't find his body, the finality when they did, and the uncertainty of the days that followed."

Somerset County Corporal Eugene Cole
Somerset County Corporal Eugene ColeJeff Pouland/The Central Maine Morning Sentinel/AP/The Central Maine Morning Sentinel via AP

She added: "I have read every single word. As sad it makes me, and how hard it is to read through tears, it touches my heart and gives it that tiny lift it so desperately needs right now. So to you all — a heartfelt thank you."

Visiting hours will be held Sunday at the Skowhegan Armory in Skowhegan. A celebration of Cole's life will be held May 7 at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report. John R. Ellement can be reached at ellement@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @JREbosglobe.