NEW GLOUCESTER — A mother of four young children died Tuesday, a day after she was shot at her home. The children’s father is suspected in the killing and remained hospitalized and in police custody.

Renee Sandora, 27, died at Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston. An autopsy was likely to be performed Tuesday, according to Maine State Police.

A second shooting victim, 28-year-old Trevor Mills of New Bedford, Mass., remained in grave condition, police said.

Police said the father of Sandora’s children, Joel Hayden, 29, will be charged in the shootings when his condition improves from injuries he suffered in a car crash as he fled from police. He is under police guard at Maine Medical Center in Portland, where he is being treated for serious back injuries that are not considered life-threatening.

Police on Tuesday weren’t sure of Hayden’s most recent address. He has a criminal record in Maine, which indicates he has lived in Lewiston, Gray and New Bedford, Mass.

Police said there was a history of domestic violence between Hayden and Sandora. Sandora had taken out protection from abuse orders against Hayden in the past but none were current, according to Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety.


McCausland said that the relationship between Sandora and Hayden was deteriorating around the time their 3-month-old twins were born. It wasn’t clear whether the two were a couple at the time of the shooting.

Police were also trying to learn more about the relationship between Hayden, Sandora and Mills.

A relative of Sandora said Tuesday that the family was not ready to speak to the press.

Hayden, whom police described as an unemployed telemarketer, has a criminal history in Maine that dates back to 2004. He has felony convictions for separate instances of eluding an officer and possession of oxycodone.

The Lewiston Sun Journal reported that Hayden was arrested by federal agents in Lewiston in 2004 in connection with a shooting in Massachusetts.

The newspaper said he was charged with aggravated assault and attempted murder.


Police said Hayden led them on a chase to the York County town of Lyman on Monday. Hayden crashed near Hawg Haven, at the intersection of routes 202 and 5. The car, owned by Mill’s mother, was towed to a state police garage and will be examined.

Sandora, along with other family members, served as a volunteer driver for Regional Transportation Program Inc., a Portland-based non-profit agency that provides transportation to the elderly and disabled.

She had been a volunteer for about five years, and gave rides five days a week.

“And then when her shift ended and even though she wanted to end her day, if there were rides we couldn’t figure out, she would step up to do those, too,” said Sara Trafton, RTP’s executive director.

Sandora recently started driving again after giving birth to her twins, Trafton said. Her oldest child was about 8 years old, she said. She had close family members who helped care for the children while she volunteered.

“She has four beautiful little children. As dedicated as she was as a volunteer, from what I saw she was a really dedicated mom,” Trafton said. “We’re all in shock and grief here.”


While Sandora talked about her children often, Trafton said she never heard about the children’s father or had any indication of trouble at home.

“She talked about her kids and about her riders,” Trafton said. “She was just a bright, young, dedicated woman and someone who was there to do whatever she could to get people where they needed to go.”

On Tuesday, state police detectives and evidence technicians searched Sandora’s Bennett Road home — a light blue mobile home with children’s toys in the front yard. A police dog was at work in a cordoned-off area.

Nicky Andrews, a neighbor, said she heard shooting Monday evening but didn’t think much of it at the time. A nearby gravel pit serves as popular spot for target practice. She learned later from friends that a dangerous suspect could be on the loose. It was a frightening situation for a normally quiet area.

“It’s such a nice neighborhood,” she said.

Ann S. Kim– 791-6383


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