SACO — Hundreds of people turned out Sunday night for a prayer vigil honoring the memory of a Saco grandmother who was fatally stabbed last week in the ice cream aisle of a local supermarket.

About 400 people gathered on the front lawn of the Cornerstone United Methodist Church on Jenkins Road, where local religious leaders spoke about the power of hope and healing as the community struggles to come to terms with the slaying of Wendy Boudreau, 59.

Police say Boudreau died Wednesday at a local hospital after her throat was slit by Connor MacCalister, 31, of Saco at the Shaw’s supermarket on Scammon Street. MacCalister was arrested, charged with murder and ordered held without bail at his initial court appearance Friday.

Pastor Michael Gray of the Old Orchard Beach United Methodist Church talked to the crowd Sunday night about the senselessness of Boudreau’s death and how it might be hard for some people to come to terms with her passing. He urged those present to light their candles, saying that “by lighting just one candle we can begin to wipe out the darkness.”

Audience members raised the lighted candles above their heads before singing the hymn “Amazing Grace.”

Later, Gray said it was “amazing” how many people turned out for the vigil on a Sunday evening in late summer. He noted the Saco and Biddeford community had experienced killings before, but there was something about Boudreau’s death that struck a nerve.

“This woman’s murder galvanized the community and I think it’s because of how senseless it was,” Gray said after the vigil had ended.

Sunday night’s vigil drew people from across the region. Though most came from Saco, Old Orchard Beach and Biddeford, a show of hands indicated that a number of people from outside the immediate area came to show their support for the Boudreau family.

Boudreau’s husband, Jeffrey Boudreau, a general contractor, worked on Catharine Curtis’ home in Biddeford Pool. She didn’t know his wife as well, but described the family as “nice and very giving.”

“They need to know that the whole world is thinking of them and loves them,” Curtis said.

“We all love the Boudreau family,” said Peggy Mailman of Saco, who walked to the vigil. “Wendy was a sweet, kind-hearted person.”

Mailman’s daughter, Jana Mailman-Keegan, went to school with Boudreau’s son, Jason.

“We’re here because they need to know how much love and support they have in this community. It might make their loss easier to overcome,” Mailman-Keegan said.

Eliza Goulet lives in Westbrook but grew up in Saco. She played soccer, softball and ran track with the Boudreaus’ daughters Jessica and Julie.

“Something like this is unimaginable,” Goulet said before the vigil began. “It makes us feel how fortunate we are, but the family needs any prayers that we can give them.”

MacCalister, who was born Tanisha Hopkins but identifies as a transgender male, said nothing during his brief court appearance Friday. He is accused of randomly targeting Boudreau without provocation, and is being held at the York County Jail in Alfred.

At Friday’s hearing, the judge ordered MacCalister to undergo a mental evaluation, which was requested by the state prosecutor, Assistant Attorney General Leane Zainea.

Zainea asked 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 an underlying mental illness.

MacCalister is being held in the women’s unit of the county jail in isolation.

In the police complaint filed Thursday, Maine State Police Detective Kristopher Kennedy said MacCalister, who lived one street away from Boudreau, told police he was “angry with life” and “wanted to get back at someone.” Kennedy said MacCalister went to the Shaw’s supermarket with plans to kill several people and wanted to target an elderly woman who wouldn’t resist.

Police have said that MacCalister and Boudreau did not know each other. Police said MacCalister followed Boudreau into the supermarket and grabbed her from behind in the ice cream aisle.

Beaudreau was born in Fredicton, New Brunswick, and moved to the United States with her mother and sister to live with her aunt and uncle. She attended local schools and graduated in 1974 from Thornton Academy, where she met her husband, according to her obituary. They had been married for 40 years.

Boudreau had four children and nine grandchildren.

A funeral ceremony will be held at 1 p.m. Tuesday in Thornton Academy’s Garland Auditorium, 438 Main St., Saco. A reception will be held at the school immediately after the service.

 

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