Maine State Police detectives investigating the killing of a Christmas tree farmer in Scarborough on Sunday morning are looking into whether there is a connection to two other violent assaults over the weekend, including an attempted murder in West Bath.

Steve McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety, said police departments in those communities have made state police aware of a violent assault on an elderly man in Freeport Saturday night and an attempted murder in West Bath Sunday morning.

“Investigators say several other police agencies have shared information on incidents that took place during the weekend in their communities and investigators are looking into whether any of those incidents may be related to the homicide investigation,” McCausland said Monday in a news release about the killing of James Pearson, 82, in Scarborough.

When asked if the three incidents were connected, McCausland declined to say that they were, adding, “We have not ruled anything out.”

State and Scarborough police are continuing their joint investigation into Pearson’s slaying by an unknown assailant Sunday morning in what they said was a random attack. Police have so far released few details about the attack on Pearson, who was a former teacher at Gorham High School and well-known local Christmas tree farmer. He was attacked in his front yard on Beech Ridge Road around 8:15 a.m. Sunday.

State police Lt. Mark Holmquist declined on Sunday to provide details of the attack, but said Pearson did not know his assailant.

Holmquist said Pearson’s wife, Nancy, was home during the attack and her husband was still alive when she tried to render aid. She contacted nearby family members, who called 911. Pearson was pronounced dead at a hospital. Holmquist wouldn’t say whether Pearson was able to describe the attacker before he died.

Scarborough Police Chief Robert Moulton, right, stands by as Lt. Mark Holmquist of the Maine State Police briefs reporters Sunday about the fatal attack on James Pearson, 82, outside his home on Beech Ridge Road. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

Investigators say progress is being made in the Scarborough case, but released no new details about the incident, suspects or why police believe the attack was random. Police have received a number of leads from the public and have conducted numerous interviews.

“Investigators do not believe there is an ongoing threat to the public,” McCausland said.

The state medical examiner began an autopsy of Pearson, but McCausland said no information about the cause of death would be released Monday because of the ongoing investigation.

Freeport and Brunswick police did not respond to requests for information Monday night regarding the weekend incidents that took place in their communities, but News Center Maine (WCSH/WLBZ-TV) reported that Brunswick police were called to assist Freeport police Saturday evening.

Brunswick Police Commander Mark Waltz told News Center Maine that an elderly man survived a “violent assault” at his home on Wardtown Road in Freeport. The incident was reported around 7:25 p.m. Saturday.

News Center Maine reported that at 10 a.m. Sunday, the Sagadahoc County dispatch center was notified of another violent assault that took place at a home in West Bath. Brunswick police were notified that a stolen black Ford Explorer, taken from the home in West Bath, could be headed in their direction. Police also were warned that the knife used in the assault could still be in the SUV.

Brunswick police stopped the vehicle in front of Northeast Bank on Maine Street in Brunswick just after noon Sunday and arrested the driver.

Quinton R. Hanna, 22, of Grant Road in Freeport, was arrested Sunday in connection with the West Bath assault, according to court documents. Grant Road is located in the same neighborhood as Wardtown Road in Freeport.

Hanna was arraigned Monday via video in West Bath District Court from the Two Bridges Regional Jail in Wiscasset where he was charged with eight felony counts including attempted murder, elevated aggravated assault, unlawful sexual contact, criminal restraint, robbery, burglary and two counts of criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon. He was being held at the jail on $250,000 cash bail.

Maine State Police are also investigating the West Bath attack, but declined to release details pending the outcome of their investigation.

“We worked with the (Sagadahoc County) Sheriff’s Department and Bath and Brunswick police on this incident,” McCausland said.

According to court documents, Hanna “did intentionally or knowingly attempt to cause the death of another human being by striking (a woman) with a motor vehicle, causing serious bodily injury.”

Court documents also allege that Hanna sexually assaulted the woman, restrained her and threatened her with a knife. He was charged with robbery for allegedly attempting to take property from a second woman while armed with a knife.

Scarborough Police Chief Robbie Moulton said his department is conducting extra patrols in town to give residents peace of mind.

“We’re in a particularly tough situation because this is a random act by, at this time, an unknown assailant,” he said. “People are looking for assurance they are safe. The only assurance I can give is that they are as safe as they were the day before this incident. … There’s nothing I can tell them at this point that’s going to make them feel completely safe.”

Roger Delaware, who knew Pearson for 50 years and runs the Scarborough Gun Club, said the random nature of the attack was troubling.

“Our society is at a low point,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s disrespect or disregard for other people, but there is an ultimate price we all pay some day.”

Delaware said he’s talked to people around town who are on edge because this type of crime is so rare.

“I have two or three friends who have been putting a pistol in their truck,” he said.

Joanne Bond, executive secretary of the Maine Christmas Tree Association, of which Pearson was a member, said she has had altercations with customers in the past but nothing that turned violent.

“If they were out of trees or something, I don’t think that would warrant a murder,” she said.

Others in town said they were confident that police were doing everything to ensure the public’s safety.

“I certainly feel safe in Scarborough,” town councilor John Cloutier said. “But it has an impact when something like this happens.”

Pearson, who went by Jim, ran Beech Ridge Farm since 1969 with his wife. When they started the business, Jim Pearson was teaching industrial arts, graphic arts and drafting at Gorham High School. Beginning in 1986, the Pearsons planted Christmas trees to sell each holiday season.

Jim Pearson was the father of Scarborough police Sgt. Mary Pearson, who has worked for the department for 32 years, Moulton said. Members of the Pearson family did not respond to requests for comment and no one answered the door at the farm on Monday.

Moulton posted a note to the community on Facebook on Monday morning saying the public safety department has suffered a tragic loss.

“I ask for peace for the Pearson family as they deal with the senseless murder of their patriarch,” he wrote. “I know this is a scary time for people and I realize that people would like to know what’s going on. I can assure you that our public safety family is working hard around the clock to keep our community safe and to hold responsible parties accountable.”

Moulton, who knew Jim Pearson for many years, described him as a “founding father” of the town who was a good neighbor, outspoken and made a strong impression on those around him. Decades ago, he served as a reserve police officer and helped coordinate horse races at Scarborough Downs.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Maine State Police at 624-7076 or Scarborough police at 883-6361.

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