ROCKLAND — A 37-year-old South Thomaston woman accused of bludgeoning an 83-year-old Owls Head woman to death after being caught stealing her debit card remains held without bail after her initial court appearance.

Helen Carver Courtesy photo

Sarah Richards is charged with murder in the death of Helen Carver. Richards had been shoveling snow for the wheelchair-bound woman this winter.

Richards did not enter a plea during the brief hearing held Monday in Knox County Superior Court before Justice Bruce Mallonee. Attorney Jeremy Pratt of Camden was appointed to represent Richards.

Richards quietly said yes and nodded her head when asked by the judge if she understood the charge and her rights.

The defense did not request a hearing to determine if Richards is eligible for bail. In Maine, people charged with murder are not automatically eligible for bail.

Assistant Attorney General Bud Ellis requested, and Mallonee agreed, to impound the affidavit stating the reasons for the arrest. Ellis said after the hearing he did not expect the affidavit would be sealed for long, but that the state wanted to continue with its investigation before its release.

The next court hearing is expected to be in 75 days.

An autopsy completed Friday by the state Medical Examiner’s Office determined Carver died from “blunt force trauma.”

Carver’s son, Robert Carver of Bath, said Saturday he had talked to his mother Thursday morning, and she suspected Richards had stolen her debit card and used it to make multiple purchases the previous day. His mother had contacted police about the theft, her son said.

He tried calling his mother later in the day, but could not reach her and drove up to check on her and found her in the home.

The Knox County Sheriff’s Office reported that they received a call at 1:30 p.m. Thursday from someone who found a woman covered in blood in the home. Several Maine State Police detectives and a representative from the Medical Examiner’s Office arrived after deputies from the sheriff’s office responded.

Friday morning, multiple state and county police stopped a vehicle in South Thomaston. No one was taken into custody and the vehicle was not seized, but police would not offer any other information about the stop and its relation to the case.

A murder conviction carries a minimum mandatory 25 years in prison with the possibility of life behind bars.

Richards has a lengthy criminal record, including under her former married name Sarah Stalcup. She was convicted along with her then-husband of stealing more than 100 lobster crates from Fox Island Lobster in Cushing in 2013. The couple had worked at the business.

She received a nine-month jail term in 2016 for unlawful trafficking in drugs. In June 2017, she was sentenced to 30 days in jail for violating the probation she was on for the prior drug conviction.

She was charged in 2012 by Waldoboro police with theft. In 2013, she served seven days in jail for violating a condition of release.

Stalcup was married in February 2007 in Waldoboro to Christopher Stalcup. They divorced in August 2015. The divorce records show that permanent guardianship of two minor children was given to the paternal grandparents per a probate order.

In 2006, Richards was sentenced to five days in jail for violating probation for illegal importation of drugs. In 2004, she was sentenced to 48 hours in jail for theft.

Carver, born Helen Pinkerton, married Robert Carver at the First Baptist Church of Rockland. The couple moved to Hollywood, Florida, where he worked for A&P Grocery. In 1968, they moved to Bangor when her husband was reassigned to a store there.

The couple had three children.

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