Police were confident they had been able to contain suspected cop killer John Williams in the marshy, wooded area near Bear Mountain and Lost Brook, west of Route 139, where the towns of Norridgewock and Fairfield meet.

“Each day we assembled teams from federal, state, local and county agencies to slowly and methodically search the difficult terrain — each day moving, searching for evidence and any signs of movement by the suspect,” Lt. John Cote, currently the second in command at state police and soon to be sworn in as colonel and chief of the Maine State Police, told reporters Saturday afternoon.

The suspect was Williams, a 29-year-old man from Madison whom police say shot and killed Somerset County Sheriff’s Office Cpl. Eugene Cole in the early morning hours of Wednesday, April 25, then stole his cruiser and tried to rob a convenience store.

Cole’s cruiser was found abandoned on Martin Stream Road.

Williams was on the run. Cole, a 13-year police veteran, was the first Maine police officer to die in a shooting in nearly 30 years.

What followed over the next four days was a sprawling, frantic manhunt involving an estimated 200 armed police officers, sheriff’s deputies and game wardens from all over Maine and from New Hampshire and Massachusetts as well as federal authorities from the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Border Patrol and the U.S. Marshals Service.

It ended with Williams’ arrest Saturday on Norridgewock Road in Fairfield, not far from the search grid, marking a wide area around Martin Stream Road.

Police cuffed Williams using Cole’s own handcuffs.

“We did use Cpl. Cole’s handcuffs,” Somerset County Sheriff Dale Lancaster said during a final briefing on the manhunt Saturday afternoon. “I thought that it was fitting, where he killed my deputy — Cpl. Gene Cole — and he was brought to justice using Cole’s handcuffs.”

Cote said police search teams all the while had to be on guard for the possibility of a continuing threat from Williams, whom police said was armed and dangerous. He said critical evidence was found — foot tracks, signs of human activity — during the searches. Each day they covered more ground, heavily armed, some with search dogs and set target ground to be covered the next day, Cote said.

There were helicopters deployed when the weather was right.

“Throughout the week we found tracks that appeared to be fresh,” Cote said.

On Saturday morning, one of the search teams found Williams outside a small, remote camp in the area of Lost Brook.

“In a testament to the team work that has been evidenced throughout this case, the seven-man capture team was comprised of members of the Maine Warden Service, the Maine State Police, the Fairfield, Maine, Police Department and the FBI,” he said.

He said Williams exerted “limited resistance.”

Williams was taken to the Maine State Prison in Warren where he awaits his initial court appearance sometime this week. The Office of Maine Attorney General is prosecuting the case. The State Police Major Crimes Unit is investigating the homicide.

Cote said police have learned from previous manhunts, including that of Robert Burton in 2015, to establish a plan early on in the investigation.

“In this case, from day one, we approached this manhunt as if it would go for a long time,” Cote said. “We knew to establish the command structure, the team work, from the very beginning. Learning for those earlier cases, from the first few hours we had the right people plugged in, clear roles and objectives for everybody that were part of that team and basically plugging people in to their strengths, using the idea that no one of us is as smart as all of us.”

The long ordeal began at 1:42 a.m. Wednesday with a report of a robbery at the Cumberland Farms store on Waterville Road in Norridgewock.

A man, later identified as Williams, is seen entering the store on video footage from the dashboard camera of Cole’s marked cruiser.

Murder suspect John Williams is led by Maine State Police detectives to a cruiser after being apprehended in Fairfield on Saturday following a four-day manhunt for the suspect in the killing of Somerset Cpl. Eugene Cole on April 25. Staff photo by David Leaming

Hours later, Cole’s body was discovered in a woman’s yard on Mercer Road, also known as U.S. Route 2, near downtown Norridgewock. Investigators learned that Williams had once lived in that house as a teenager after he had a falling out with his parents.

Police said Williams, who was scheduled to appear in court that day in Massachusetts on gun charges, had shot Cole and stolen his cruiser. The fully marked cruiser was found abandoned on Martin Stream Road in Norridgewock.

Precious few details on the shooting and the ensuing manhunt have been released by police, saying only that Williams was not injured and that he was checked by medical personnel before being taken for questioning at the Waterville Police Department.

“There will be times when that information comes out throughout the process, but this is not the time for those details yet to be released,” Cote told reporters on Saturday.

Cole, 61, had been involved days earlier in the arrest of Williams’ girlfriend, Kristina Pomerleau, on charges related to cocaine possession, but police were tight-lipped as to the details of that relationship and whether it had anything to do with Cole’s death.

Pressed by reporters Saturday, Cote would not say if Williams was armed when he was apprehended. He said Williams was the only suspect in the shooting, but would not offer details about how they knew that.

The arresting officers were not wearing body cameras, he said.

Police have not said if Cole was on duty when he encountered Williams, although the radio log from the communications center lists Cole — his call number Somerset 1312 — as being one of several units dispatched to the robbery report at Cumberland Farms at 1:42 a.m.

Police also have not said if it was Cole’s weapon that was used to kill him or if the weapon was found. Cole’s body was not discovered until 7:15 a.m. Wednesday. Authorities said Cole was shot between 1 and 2 a.m. The cruiser was found abandoned shortly after 5 a.m. off Martin Stream Road in Norridgewock, police said.

Police have offered no motive in the killing.

“We believe the suspect then fled the vehicle on foot and is presently at large,” Maine State Police said in a news release Wednesday morning.

It also is not clear if Cole’s cruiser had a GPS device that would have made it easier to track. Police would not say if Williams had food or supplies to help him survive the cold, wet weather in woods or if he had been in contact with anyone while on the lam.

Around 11:15 a.m., Cole’s body was taken out in a Maine State Police evidence response truck with a state police cruiser ahead of it, lights flashing, en route to the medical examiner’s office in Augusta. A shoulder-to-shoulder line of police officers stood at attention near the scene, some saluting as Cole’s body was delivered to the waiting state police vehicle.

As the procession left, there was a flurry of police sirens echoing across the downtown. Officers stood at attention and saluted as the body was delivered to the medical examiner’s office in Augusta.

Cole’s body was returned to Skowhegan amid a procession of police cars, light flashing and sirens blaring later in the day.

Visiting hours will be held from 4-7 p.m., Sunday, May 6, at the Skowhegan Armory, 11 North School St., Skowhegan. A celebration of Cole’s life will be held at noon, Monday, May 7, at the Cross Insurance Center, 515 Main St., Bangor, with Chaplain Kevin Brooks officiating.

In honor of his dedication to his community, memorial contributions may be sent to:

The Corporal Eugene Cole

Memorial Fund

c/o Bangor Savings Bank

113 Madison Ave.

Skowhegan, ME 04976.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter:@Doug_Harlow

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