A Washington County man has pleaded guilty to murder for killing his girlfriend in 2022 and will be sentenced this month.

Paul DeForest Photo courtesy of Fauquier County, Virginia, Sheriff’s Department

Paul DeForest pleaded guilty last Wednesday to one count of intentional or knowing murder for the death of Eva Cox, 58, and one count of criminal solicitation.

DeForest, who is now 67, will likely be in prison for the rest of his life, said his defense attorney, Steven Juskewitch.

“He’s fully accepting the consequences for what happened,” Juskewitch said Tuesday.

DeForest is accused of killing Cox on the evening of Jan. 8, 2022. State police said after his arrest that month that Cox’s body was found in the trunk of a car. The couple shared a home on Jim’s Head Road in Lubec, state police said.

DeForest had already left the state when her body was found. He was arrested in Warrenton, Virginia, and extradited back to Maine.


He was indicted on the solicitation charge in June for trying to get another person in Hancock County to commit arson for him on or about Dec. 16, 2022, according to court records. It’s unclear what he wanted to set fire to.

DeForest is scheduled to be sentenced in Washington County Superior Court on Sept. 19. Under a plea deal with prosecutors, both sides will ask that he serve 32 years in prison for murder and five years at the same time for solicitation, DeForest’s attorney said.

Eva Cox Photo courtesy of the Cox family

Cox was a grandmother who loved being outdoors, gardening and playing with her grandchildren, according to her obituary. The Lubec woman had worked at Walmart for nearly two decades, where family and co-workers said she was recognized many times for “outstanding customer service, loyalty and strong work ethic.”

Her family members could not be reached Tuesday to discuss the plea deal.

A police affidavit says DeForest was identified as the sole suspect after a friend who witnessed the shooting came forward.

Joseph Barton, of Gilmanton, New Hampshire, reached out to the Loudon Police Department to report a possible murder or suicide in Lubec after leaving DeForest’s house the night of Cox’s death. He had been in Maine visiting the couple for about two months, he told police.


Barton said he was sleeping upstairs after dinner that Saturday night when he heard a “pop” downstairs, the affidavit states. He went down the steps and saw Cox lying on the floor. Once he got closer to her body, he could see she was surrounded by blood and struggling to breathe. He saw a pistol on the counter by DeForest, who grabbed Cox by the arm and dragged her onto the patio outside, Barton told police.

DeForest told Barton to leave, according to the affidavit, and Barton spent half an hour packing before leaving around 8:50 p.m., when he called his mother to say he was coming home.

Before Barton left, he said he told DeForest at least twice that “he needed to make this right” and DeForest said something to the effect of “why did she have to push my buttons, she knew I loved her.”

He also told police that he heard the two bicker daily and “heard them both threaten to kill each other,” the affidavit states.

Barton showed police a text conversation he later had with DeForest. In one message, DeForest said, “If you are ever questioned about what happened, Eva and I were fighting as usual over the house she asked you to leave and you did eventually you will have to return and all your tools as well as mine take care brother and thank you for everything.”

Cox’s death wasn’t discovered until more than two days later when a Washington County Sheriff’s deputy arrived at the house around 4 p.m. on Jan. 10 for a well-being check on Cox. When no one answered the door, the deputy found red stains on the gravel and in the snow near the rear doors. The deputy also noticed a gold woman’s earring.


It’s unclear from the affidavit who requested the well-being check.

Police observed fresh tire marks leading from the concrete patio area to a wooden barn, where officers could see a large tractor parked inside. Police obtained a search warrant for the property that night and discovered the tractor was covered in red-brown stains.

The next morning, a game warden found Cox’s 2011 Chevy Malibu in the driveway next door. The body of a woman, who appeared to be Cox, was found beside a rolled-up rug in the trunk. Both were saturated with blood.

Barton told police that DeForest was on his way to West Virginia, according to the affidavit. Barton said DeForest had called him to say he wanted “to get his dog to his daughter before he got caught.”

A sheriff’s department in Virginia found DeForest at a home in Warrenton and negotiated with him to surrender, state police said at the time.

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