AUBURN — A Jay man allegedly beat his girlfriend to death with a baseball bat and left a note accusing the woman of cheating on him with someone else.

Those details emerged Thursday from a police affidavit filed the same day that James Sweeney, 56, made his first court appearance on a charge of murder in connection with the killing of Wendy Douglass, 51.

Sweeney entered no plea during the brief appearance in Androscoggin County Superior Court and was ordered held without bail. During his initial appearance, Sweeney, in an orange jumpsuit and in shackles, indicated he understood the charge against him, which Justice William Stokes said carried a penalty of 25 years to life in prison.

In court, Sweeney, who is deaf, needed the help of a sign language interpreter to understand the judge and to respond. Sweeney’s attorney was Walter Hanstein, who said he had yet to talk with his client.

After the initial court appearance, Deputy Attorney General Lisa Marchese called the event a domestic violence homicide. She said it appeared Douglass had been killed while she was sleeping, and it appeared as though law enforcement had not been involved with the couple before Douglass was killed.

Marchese said Douglass had been contemplating leaving Sweeney, and “leaving can be the most dangerous time.”


“He was losing control and he killed her,” Marchese said.

Douglass’ body was found Tuesday in the home she shared with Sweeney on Jewell Street in downtown Jay.

In the affidavit, state police Detective John Kyle said Sweeney drove himself to the Androscoggin County jail just before 8 a.m. Tuesday, presenting a note saying he had hurt his girlfriend “very badly.”

The affidavit stated Sweeney’s note read: “I’m going to jail cause I hurt my girlfriend. I live at 5 Jewel St Jay my name is James e Sweeney. Please check Wendy Douglas at 5 Jewel st jay I did wrong.”

Sweeney’s daughter-in-law, Michelle Libby, told authorities that the couple had broken up but were still living together. Libby said Sweeney texted her that morning, saying that he was going to jail.

Jay police arrived at the address to perform a welfare check and found Douglass’ car in the driveway. The house was secured and there was no response when they knocked at the door. Detective Michael Mejia, Officer Dylan Rider and police Chief Richard Caton entered the home, where they found a closed door with a white piece of paper taped to it. The affidavit later stated that the note read: “Wendy I love you you ruin my love I already know you cheat on me you lie lie lie a lot ‘Ted.'” The affidavit said that Jessica Douglass, the victim’s daughter, reported that Sweeney also went by the nickname Ted.


The door with the note had a blanket tucked under it and the officers could hear a fan running behind the door. Once inside the room, officers found Douglass’ body under a blanket with a “visible injury to the facial area.”

A police search discovered a black wooden baseball bat — hidden at the base of stairs in the home — with red-brown stains on it that probably are blood, the affidavit said. An autopsy revealed the cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head.

Sweeney’s son Patrick was interviewed, and the affidavit states he also received a text from his father stating he was going to jail. Patrick Sweeney also said he last saw his father Monday night, when he had picked him up and driven him to Cumberland Farms. The affidavit states Sweeney had been drinking at that time.

The killing in Jay came days after domestic violence homicides in Madison, in which Carroll Tuttle Jr. went on a shooting rampage that killed his partner, Lori Hayden, 53; their son, Dustin Tuttle, 26; and neighbor Michael Spaulding, 57. He also wounded Harvey Austin, 57, of Skowhegan. Tuttle Jr. was killed by Somerset County sheriff’s deputies after the killings, which authorities also described as domestic violence.

Marchese said it was disappointing to see two cases of domestic violence homicide back to back.

“It’s important for folks to remember there are domestic violence resources all over the state of Maine,” Marchese said.


Marchese said the case will be heard in Franklin County in the future, since the crime occurred in that county. Sweeney’s initial court appearance was held in the Androscoggon County Superior Court just for convenience, she said.

Colin Ellis — 861-9253

Twitter: @colinoellis


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