ALFRED — A suspect accused of fatally stabbing a woman in the neck in the freezer section of a Saco supermarket was ordered held without bail at his initial appearance in court Friday and said nothing during the brief hearing.

Connor MacCalister, 31, who was born Tanisha Hopkins but identifies as a transgender male, is accused of randomly targeting Wendy Boudreau, a 59-year-old mother and grandmother, at Shaw’s supermarket on Wednesday afternoon and attacking her from behind without provocation.

Dozens of Boudreau’s family members and friends sat in the audience section of York County Superior Court during the hearing, some hugging and others wiping tears from their eyes.

MacCalister entered the courtroom flanked by sheriff’s deputies and accompanied by his attorney, Robert LeBrasseur. Dressed in a blue polo-style shirt, MacCalister looked straight ahead at Justice John O’Neil Jr. for the several minutes the proceeding lasted, occasionally making a chewing motion.

MacCalister was not required to enter a plea and will remain in custody at the York County Jail.

The judge ordered MacCalister to undergo a mental evaluation requested by Assistant Attorney General Leane Zainea, who is prosecuting the case.

Zainea had requested that MacCalister be evaluated for mental competency to stand trial, whether he has the mental faculty to be held responsible for the crime and whether he has any underlying mental illness. But LeBrasseur objected to having anything MacCalister says during the competency evaluation being made public, unless he decides to use an insanity defense.

LeBrasseur would not comment on his client’s well-being after the court hearing, but explained his objection in more detail. He said the judge approved the state’s motion for a psychiatric evaluation, but heeded the defense attorney’s objection that releasing the results of that evaluation may jeopardize MacCalister’s 5th Amendment rights, which include protection against self-incrimination.

The results of the mental evaluation will be released only to LeBrasseur. However, if the defense decides to plead not guilty by reason of insanity, the results would then be shared with the prosecution.

Sheriff William King said that a committee at the jail, after getting advice from safety and mental health officials, decided to hold MacCalister in the women’s unit at the jail, in isolation. King said it is not yet clear whether the state will conduct the mental evaluation at the jail or at Riverview Psychiatric Center in Augusta.

Jeffrey Boudreau, Wendy Boudreau’s husband, who lives in Saco, and their four adult children were among those who attended the court hearing.

Like others in the courtroom, they showed little reaction when MacCalister was led in.

Jeffrey Boudreau craned his neck to see the person charged with killing his wife, but remained stoic.

Through a victim/witness advocate, the family declined to comment publicly. Members of MacCalister’s family didn’t appear to be in the courtroom Friday.

In the complaint filed Thursday that formally charged MacCalister with murder, Maine State Police Detective Kristopher Kennedy said MacCalister, who lives one street away from the Boudreaus in Saco, told police he was “angry with life” and “wanted to get back at someone.”

Kennedy wrote that MacCalister went to the Shaw’s in Saco with plans to kill several people and wanted to target an elderly woman who wouldn’t resist. Police have said MacCalister and Boudreau didn’t know each other.

Police said MacCalister saw Boudreau in the parking lot and followed her into the store. He grabbed her from behind in the ice cream aisle and slit the woman’s throat, Kennedy wrote. One of her daughters and a grandchild were shopping in the store with Boudreau, but didn’t see the attack.

An obituary submitted Friday for Boudreau described her as a “selfless, kind, caring, compassionate woman, full of life, and always willing to help where she could.”

“She enjoyed gardening, cooking and the daily crossword puzzle, she prided herself on being able to complete the daily New York Times crossword puzzle in ink with no mistakes,” the obituary read. “Christmas was her favorite time of year, opening her house to family and friends and bringing the magic of Christmas to life for the children and grandchildren filled her with joy.”

A community vigil has been scheduled for Boudreau at Cornerstone United Methodist Church on Sunday.

Melody Laskey of Saco, who is organizing the vigil for Boudreau, said she wanted to do something for the family but also to bring the community of Saco together. Laskey has talked with members of the Boudreau family and said they are still shocked by what happened.

“We want the family to know that there are a lot of people behind them,” she said.

Staff Writer Eric Russell contributed to this report.

 


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