AUGUSTA — A city man accused of stabbing his girlfriend to death last week inside an apartment told a roommate he discovered her talking to another man on the phone, adding that he blacked out and “screwed up,” according to court documents released Monday.
Justin G. Pillsbury, 38, who is charged with murdering 24-year-old Jillian Jones Wednesday night inside their apartment at 32 Crosby St., made the comments to roommate Michael St. Pierre, State Police Detective Christopher Tremblay wrote in an affidavit filed in Kennebec County Superior Court.
Tremblay’s affidavit says Pillsbury confessed to detectives that he stabbed and killed Jones. A state medical examiner determined she suffered three wounds — one above the ear, one on the right side of the neck and one under her chin — according to the affidavit.
Pillsbury, who had serious injuries from stab wounds police say he inflicted upon himself after stabbing Jones, was arrested Friday night at MaineGeneral Medical Center in Augusta. Wearing a large loose bandage around the front and left side of his neck, Pillsbury made his first appearance in Kennebec County Superior Court Monday.
Jones’ family members, including her father, a brother and a sister-in-law, attended the hearing Monday.
“The father is devastated,” said Deputy Attorney General William Stokes, who spent several minutes with Jones’ family after the hearing. “They are a very nice family.”
On Sunday, about 150 people gathered for a candlelight vigil in Bingham to mourn Jones’ death. Jones grew up in the small town and was remembered as a sweet and loving person who was enrolled as a student at a Waterville beauty school at the time of her death.
‘Everyone needs to step up’
Jones is the first person in Augusta to die as a result of a homicide this year, but hers is the 20th such death in Maine in 2013, said Department of Public Safety spokesman Steve McCausland. Eight of those 20 homicides have been the result of domestic violence.
Stokes lauded the push by Gov. Paul LePage and others reduce domestic violence across the state, but despite those efforts, domestic violence continues to lead to about half of all homicides in the state, Stokes said. The vast majority of those cases is violence perpetrated by men against women, he said.
“We still have not made a significant dent,” Stokes said.
Deborah Shepherd, executive director of the Family Violence Project in Augusta, said change will only occur as the community becomes more involved by reporting suspected violence and encouraging victims to seek help.
“Everyone needs to step up to the plate,” she said. “You can’t just leave it to law enforcement and advocates.”
The Family Violence Project offers assistance to victims and to those looking for a way to approach someone. “Domestic violence is tragic and unjustifiable,” Shepherd said. “We feel outrage and sorrow for Jillian’s family and for those impacted by her murder.”
Held without bail
On Monday, Pillsbury softly said, “Yes I do,” when Justice Michaela Murphy asked if he understood the charge against him and the minimum 25-year prison sentence if convicted. As he was leaving the courthouse, Pillsbury told a reporter he had no comment. Attorney James Lawley represented Pillsbury at the hearing and offered no comment on the case.
Murphy ordered Pillsbury to be held without bail until a Friday hearing, which is tentatively scheduled for 9 a.m. Stokes said the state would seek to have Pillsbury held without bail through his trial.
Tall and lean with tightly cropped hair and beard, Pillsbury was wearing jailhouse orange, and shuffled into the courtroom in ankle shackles. A short row of surgical staples closed what appeared to be a small puncture wound on the left side of his neck. A large cast-like bandage covered a portion of his hand and extended half way up to his elbow. There was a small flexible bandage over his left index finger. His unbandaged hand was shackled to his waist as he was moved in and out of the courthouse.
Pillsbury sat alone at a table for several minutes before the brief hearing. He spent much of that time looking out a nearby window overlooking Water Street in the distance.
Neither Lawley nor Stokes would provide an update on Pillsbury’s health. Stokes said Pillsbury is being cared for at the jail and that none of his injuries are life threatening.
Neighbors heard quarrel
Jones was killed sometime around 8 p.m. Wednesday. A neighbor, Christine Spaulding, told police that she went to the apartment between 6:30 and 7:30 p.m. and heard an argument, according to the affidavit.
“Spaulding said she looked through the window of the door and only saw Jones and Pillsbury inside the apartment,” Tremblay wrote in the affidavit. “Spaulding said while outside, she heard Jones scream from inside the apartment and then saw Jones get pushed up against the window of the door.”
Spaulding went back to her apartment, but did not call police, Tremblay wrote.
The fight between Jones and Pillsbury was reportedly noticed by other neighbors as well. Beth Morelend, who lives across the street, told reporters Thursday morning that she heard Pillsbury and Jones arguing outside the apartment around 7 p.m.
“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 needed to be called for what she viewed as a quarrel between “a girlfriend who didn’t want to break up and a guy who didn’t care.”
St. Pierre returned to the apartment from the soup kitchen on Water Street around 8 p.m. The door to his apartment was locked, Tremblay wrote. St. Pierre knocked for Pillsbury to let him in, which he eventually did. St. Pierre went in to the apartment and discovered blood everywhere, Tremblay wrote. St. Pierre found Jones in the bathroom, and she did not have a pulse.
“Pillsbury told St. Pierre that he caught Jones talking to another man on the phone and didn’t like that and he blacked out,” Tremblay wrote.
Pillsbury said he wanted to kill himself, but he said the knife was too dull.
“St. Pierre told (Augusta Police Patrol Investigator Eric) Dos Santos that he sharpened the knife for Pillsbury,” Tremblay wrote. “Pillsbury cut himself again, telling St. Pierre to leave and not to call police.”
St. Pierre went to the next door apartment occupied by Spaulding and Rashaad Cook.
“St. Pierre told Spaulding and Cook what had occurred in his apartment, what he saw, and what Justin told him,” Tremblay wrote. “Spaulding and Cook told St. Pierre to call police.”
Augusta Police dispatchers received that 911 call at 8:08 p.m. Police arrived at the apartment and found Jones dead in the bathroom, and Pillsbury alive but injured.
Craig Crosby — firstname.lastname@example.org