This week, Yergy and Drewby conclude the case of James Rodney Hicks, arguably Maine’s only known serial killer – and speculate as to why Hicks got away with his crimes for so long.
On 1 November 2000, Maine’s Penobscot County grand jury formally charged confessed killer James Hicks, 49, with the murders of Jerilyn Towers and Lynn Willette. Hicks served six years of a 10-year prison sentence for killing his first wife, 23-year-old Jennie Hicks, who disappeared from the couple’s Carmel home in 1977.
Hicks was not arrested for her murder until 1983 and was convicted in 1984. Before his arrest, Towers, 34, of Newport, disappeared after leaving a Newport bar with Hicks. In fact the police investigation into Towers’ disappearance prompted the re-examination Jennie Hicks’ disappearance and subsequently the charging Hicks with her murder. At the time he was not charged with Towers’ death because police lacked adequate evidence.
After his release from prison in 1990, Hicks met 40-year-old Willette of Orrington with whom he worked at the Twin City Motel in Brewer. The two eventually lived together at a South Main Street apartment where Hicks now claims he killed Willette on May 26th 1996. Though also suspected in her disappearance, Hicks was never charged with her death because of lack of evidence. That is until he was handed a 55-year sentence in Lubbock, Texas, and confessed to the three killings and led authorities to their bodies.
Hicks was convicted in Texas of holding a gun to the head of a 67-year-old woman, forcing here to write a check to him and sign over the title to her car, and then write a suicide note. He planned to drug and drown the woman to make it look like a suicide, but she somehow managed to escaped. When he was convicted to 55 years in prison Hicks asked to cut a deal with authorities in Maine whereby he agreed to direct them to the bodies of the three missing in exchange for serving his time in Maine instead of Texas.
Back in Maine Hicks located the remains of his three victims after two days of digging around his former home in Etna and at several roadside sites in Aroostook County, Maine. The remains of his former wife and Towers were found 100 feet apart next to the home where he grew up. Willette’s remains were found in concrete buckets buried next to the road in Aroostook County. Apparently all the bodies were dismembered and some parts he allegedly tossed in a nearby river.
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