AUGUSTA — A woman was stabbed to death in what police have called a homicide Wednesday night at an apartment on Crosby Street.
Investigators haven’t charged anyone yet and have stopped short of calling her boyfriend a suspect, even though he is hospitalized with apparently self-inflicted stab wounds and police say only the man and the woman were involved.
Jillian Jones, 24, was found stabbed to death inside the 32 Crosby St. apartment where she lived with boyfriend Justin Pillsbury, 38, who is in stable condition at MaineGeneral Medical Center, said Sgt. Jason Richards, of the Maine State Police’s Major Crimes Unit at a news conference Wednesday afternoon.
Police plan to interview Pillsbury when his condition improves. Police aren’t seeking suspects in the case and there is no threat to the public, Richards said.
“We certainly hope to talk to him to see if he was involved in this,” said Lt. Christopher Coleman, head of the Major Crimes Unit for Maine’s northern region, at the scene early Thursday morning.
Police also wouldn’t say whether Pillsbury and Jones were arguing that night, but neighbor Beth Morelend said she heard the couple arguing hours before the incident, which occurred in the last house on a quiet dead-end street.
“She was crying,” Morelend said. “He wanted her to leave. She wanted her stuff and he laughed it off and said, ‘You have to go.’ ”
Morelend said she didn’t think police presence was necessary, saying she deemed it a quarrel between “a girlfriend who didn’t want to break up and a guy who didn’t care.”
The stabbing was reported by a friend of Pillsbury’s who was around the house at the time of the incident, according to state police. When police and firefighters got to the scene shortly after 8 p.m., Richards said, nobody else was in the home besides Jones and Pillsbury. However, Richards wouldn’t say whether anyone else had been there earlier in the night.
Deputy Chief Jared Mills of the Augusta Police Department said when first responders arrived, the woman was found dead and the man critically injured, leading city police to call state police for help.
Neighbor Marie Allen said she had returned home a short time before then and was doing dishes when police and rescue arrived.
“We were surrounded by police, ambulances and firetrucks,” Allen said.
An activity log released by Augusta police indicates dispatchers answered the initial 911 call at 8:08 p.m. Mills said callers reported two victims, one of whom was dead. Police arrived two minutes later, and the first fire and rescue trucks three minutes after that. Pillsbury was loaded into an ambulance and on his way to the hospital by 8:18 p.m. He arrived seven minutes later.
Police investigated throughout the night, speaking to a number of neighbors during the process. Allen said Jones’ body was removed from the apartment around 7 a.m. Thursday. Richards said the autopsy was conducted later in the day, showing she had died of stab wounds, but he wouldn’t say how many or where she was stabbed.
Pillsbury has a minor history in Augusta District Court. In 2004, his then-girlfriend, Amerika Stewart, of Dexter, who is the mother of his two children, obtained a protection-from-abuse order after an incident in which she said he had choked her. The order was lifted a few months later.
Reached Thursday, Stewart said the two children are now 12 and 14 and are staying with Pillsbury’s mother in Benton.
Her 15-year relationship with Pillsbury was occasionally violent, she said. He sometimes hit her and she sometimes hit him, she said.
She applied for the order in May 2004 and it was lifted the next year, but Stewart said the two were together the whole time and all in all, he was “a good man.”
“I’ve always had respect for him and I’ve always had love for him,” she said. “It really breaks my heart that he got into this situation.”
Stewart said she and Pillsbury finally broke up a year and a half ago. State police said Jones and Pillsbury had been seeing each other for about two years. The couple had moved into the first-floor apartment on Crosby Street recently. According to city records, the building at 32 Crosby St. has five apartments. State records show it’s owned by a limited liability company run by the Hinkley Land Co. of Winthrop.
Neighbors said the neighborhood is quiet and a place where children gather to play in the street during the summer. Allen, who has lived on the street for three years, said there have been incidents, typically domestic disturbances, that have required police intervention; but those events are uncommon.
“It wasn’t a shock to see police, but it was a shock to see all of this,” Allen said.
Pillsbury has lived in Augusta in recent years and is employed as a flagger at road construction sites, McCausland said. Several Crosby Street neighbors who know Pillsbury described him as friendly and good-natured. Morelend said Pillsbury is “decent and mild-mannered.”
Malcolm Leeman, who lived in the same apartment building, said Pillsbury has been a close friend for more than three years. Leeman said Pillsbury sometimes drinks heavily, but that he is “a great person” with “a great heart” who loves his children and family. He said Pillsbury loved Jones, too, but that there had been some “bumps in the road” recently.
Stewart said Pillsbury was in the military but never served in combat. However, neighbors thought he was a veteran of the Iraq war, although it’s unclear why they thought that. Maj. Michael Steinbuchel, spokesman for the Maine Army National Guard, said Pillsbury is a former private in the guard, but he wouldn’t say when he served or whether he is a combat veteran. Richards said investigators had not determined whether Pillsbury had served in the military or what that service entailed.
Pillsbury is wearing military fatigues and carrying an assortment of weapons in photos posted on his Facebook page.
“I was just talking to him the other day,” Morelend said. “I said my thank-yous on Veterans Day.”
Jones grew up in Bingham and was studying to be a beautician in Waterville, state police said in a Thursday news release. She made headlines in 2011 after she was arrested along with her then-boyfriend after their 18-month-old toddler swallowed cocaine. In February 2012, she was sentenced to 90 days in jail after a conviction.
The baby was staying with Jones’ mother, her attorney said in court then. The child is now 3 years old, and Richards said the toddler is staying with family members. No children were present during the stabbings Wednesday night.
A telephone number for Jones’ parents in Bingham was disconnected, and a friend and a family member didn’t return Facebook messages seeking comment. A manager at Empire Beauty School in Waterville, where Jones was a student, declined to comment.
Court records show that less than two months after Jones’ sentence related to the cocaine began, she was released from the Kennebec County jail. In May 2012, a Skowhegan police officer found her in a parked car with alcohol on her breath and a marijuana pipe next to her. She was arrested and eventually sentenced to 33 days in jail for violating conditions of release.
Stewart, the mother of Pillsbury’s children, said she took her children out of school Thursday. The youngest wasn’t taking the news well, while the eldest was staying quiet.
The children had been angry with their father lately, she said, because he had started leaving for periods of time and not coming back to see them.
“But they love their dad,” Stewart said. “They’ll always love their dad, for sure.”