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Today is the twenty-ninth anniversary of the murder of Alice Hawks. We are still here - still waiting - still believing.
"The truth! I want the truth!" ...Frances Hawkes
It was not the first time that the Hawkes family had been to the Brookings Smith Funeral Home. Eleven months before, in November of 1986, Alice's father had died of a sudden heart attack. They had gathered there together to make the necessary arrangements and the unpleasant task of picking out a coffin. Alice and her boyfriend - Stephen Bouchard - had driven up from Westbrook to Bangor for the funeral. At a time when Alice needed to be with her family and to have Stephen by her side to support her he chose not to attend the funeral only making an appearance at the wake instead.
It was on that occasion that Alice's sister, Rosemary, pulled her aside and made her promise that if anything ever happened to her she would have a closed casket.That was her wish and Alice agreed to abide by it. Neither of them could even dream that eleven months later it would be Rosemary and the family doing the same thing for Alice.
It was Rosemary and Alice's Aunt Gerry who picked out the blue sweater and a skirt that she would be buried in. The smile on Alice's face that everyone had seen so often and that was captured on almost every picture of her was gone being replaced by the undertakers attempt to make her look as natural as possible - as she did in life. Her hair had been fixed and makeup applied. Still she did not look at peace. Jamie Driggers, Alice's niece, said that it looked like it was - "A very traumatic stop of something that should have been a very long life."
Alice's mother and family would shoulder the grief that her murderer had placed upon them with dignity as best as they could. For those who survive today the sting of what happened may wane from time to time but it is always under the surface. The simplest things can trigger the memories and emotions and cause them to flood their minds again even if they are engaged in other activities. But it is the quiet moments - when they are alone - when the horrible thoughts of Alice's last moments of life can haunt them. The anger of what happened to her is compounded by the fact her murderer is still free - unaccountable for the actions that brutally and horribly ended her life.
Frances Hawkes had one thing to do - that she had to do. It was not out of morbid curiosity. She had to see for herself what had happened to her daughter. Alice's coffin had been opened for a private family viewing before being closed to the public. Frances approached her daughter - her last born - her baby - laying in it with her head raised up on a slight angle with arms folded. It was same child that she had sat with when sick, rocked to sleep when upset, laughed with, disciplined, encouraged and looked upon with love. She slowly reached over the coffin and placed her fingers on sweater that covered her daughter's neck and gently pulled it away. Now she knew.
On Thursday, October 8, 1987, Father Clement Thibodeau conducted the 10:00 a.m funeral mass at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Bangor. After it was over he quickly made his way to Mt. Pleasant Cemetery to await the arrival of the long funeral procession of vehicles following the hearse.
Alice's niece was annoyed when she arrived at the cemetery for the burial of her aunt. It was a difficult time for her family as well as Alice's friends and co-workers who were there especially under the circumstances of her death. What should have been a solemn and private occasion had been invaded by representatives of the news media. And even though they kept a respectable distance form the graveside ceremony it just didn't seem right to her. Still it was a video record of the events that have been preserved to this day twenty-nine years later.
The photo accompanying this article is a still frame grab from the video recorded that day. There is a quality issue, but not enough to take away from moment that it was captured. Those following Alice's case will find it interesting.
The picture shows Alice's casket and in front of it the large bouquet of flowers that sat upon it at the funeral home. The people seen standing with heads bowed are her two brothers, and on the far right her Uncle and Aunt. The other people cannot be identified except one. On the far left wearing a dark suit, light shirt and sunglasses and shaking hands with another male with his back to the camera is Stephen Bouchard, Alice's boyfriend.
Father Thibodeau concluded the prayers at the grave by committing Alice's body to the ground and her soul to heaven. He then stepped aside so that those in attendance could say a final goodbye. Slowly the people approached the casket - some staring at it - others with heads bowed in private thoughts. And then they slowly began to drift away and leave the cemetery.
Four days before and one-hundred thirty-five miles aways Alice Hawkes had died alone on the floor of her small bathroom in Westbrook, Maine. And now - back home in Bangor - she was alone with the cemetery groundskeepers who placed her body in the grave. They filled it with dirt, replaced the sections of grass that had been removed and then covered it with the funeral flowers. Once that was completed the funeral was officially over, but the depth of the family's nightmare was just beginning.The following day the state medical examiner's office officially ruled Alice's death as a homicide.
The people who knew Alice said that - "She was the last person in the world that you could think of that something like that would happen to." The question is - "Who? and Why? would somebody ever want to hurt someone as precious as Alice?"
Who Killed Alice?
It does not seem likely that someone followed Alice home that Saturday morning, by choice, luck, or fate and knocked on her door as opposed to the others available in the apartment complex. There was no evidence of an attempted robbery or a sexual assault. A stranger did not enter the apartment, kill Alice, and then take the time to go through her purse looking for a key to the deadbolt lock - a lock that her boyfriend said they never used. No. The sad fact - the extremely sad fact - is that Alice knew her assailant - her murderer - and that it was someone who she trusted. Someone that even during a heated argument or disagreement she felt that she could turn her back on and continue her work. Her death was the result of a violent and sudden attack. We have a theory of why it happened - a possible motive - but we will not address it now. Regardless of why it happened this lovely young woman was butchered in her own home, during the day and in the middle of putting her wet laundry away.
Why Alice was killed answers to "motive" - something that can strengthen a case - but it is not a requirement for an arrest and a successful prosecution. Who Killed Alice is the question and her boyfriend - Stephen Bouchard - had some thoughts about it. As a matter of fact he had several thoughts - but they changed during the course of the investigation.
On the day that Bouchard and his landlord found Alice's body he was the one who seeded to detectives that Alice could have killed herself - committed suicide. A few hours later he called her brother to tell him that there had "been an accident." When Alice's mother asked him later who could have done it he blamed one of Alice's co-workers. Next it was someone who was trying to get him and 'they got Alice instead." And then he just did not know saying that he was afraid to go to a bar in Portland for fear of "sitting next to the guy" who killed her. Well? Which was it?
If the technology that we have today existed back in 1987 the answer as to who killed Alice Hawkes might have been answered already and it might have very little to do with DNA or Forensic Examination and have everything to do with "Big Brother" watching via cameras throughout the city and cell phone technology pinging off towers. Alibi's are just words unless they can be verified by facts. Of course even though1987 might be considered by some as the dark ages of technology there were a few things around then could assist law enforcement. A few examples from Alice's case may be of interest to some.
On Saturday, October 3, 1987, the day that Alice was murdered her boyfriend, Stephen Bouchard, made a withdrawal of $25.00 from their joint bank account at the Maine Savings Bank at the Pine Tree Shopping Center in Portland, Maine. We know that by the bank statement showing account activity and also the video camera surveillance photo that captured the transaction. The time that the transaction occurred is not listed on the printed statement, but was recorded on the camera image. Also on that same day Bouchard made some purchases and kept the receipts that again showed the details of where they were made as well as the date and time stamp of each of them. And on Sunday October 4, 1987 after Alice's body was found, he ran into the Big Apple next door to their apartment and screamed for someone to call the police even though that he know that their landlord, Bob Margiloff, had already done so a few minutes before. A fact that still bothers Margiloff to this day.
Though primitive by today's standard the Big Apple did have a camera(s) inside the building. The importance of these things mentioned are twofold - they capture not only the time, but also the clothing that the person was wearing. So depending upon the murder timeline and statements to law enforcement they can answer or raise questions about a persons alibi on something that may seem as insignificant as the clothing worn. What is unfortunate is that on the day Alice's body was found and Stephen Bouchard was at the Westbrook Police station there were no cameras available and nothing was recorded on tape. Just handwritten notes of answers to questions and statements that he made in a logbook. Still it takes a lot more than cameras to make an arrest. Perhaps a confession?
Very few people outside of law enforcement know that here was a confession to Alice's murder. Case solved? No! There are multiple reasons why a person would confess to a crime that they did not commit the details of why we will leave to others who are interested in to research. The individual in this case was already incarcerated in jail for another crime and when questioned by the Maine State Police had no knowledge of the details of the crime or the crime scene.
Since law enforcement is mandated to follow up on crime tips that is something that if pertinent can help or add to a case, or if not can be a tremendous waste of time. Something that goes with the job, but is certainly not welcomed.
Peeking in Windows
Alice's landlord, Bob Margiloff, told me on several occasions that her Stephen Bouchard did try to look inside the living room apartment window by climbing the fire escape something that I have done on several occasions. If true, the importance of this cannot be overstated depending upon the apartment window and furniture placement. The crime scene photos will show any position of window curtains, or furniture that may block the view of the room. Also the time of day may impact the view. If what we have been told by multiple on-scene sources at the time is accurate there was a large circle of blood that had soaked into the living room rug. The question is was there any visibility inside the living room window from outside on the fire escape? Could the rug be seen? Could the bathroom where Alice was laying be seen at all from that position? Hopefully those tests were conducted.
The apartment bathroom was "awash in blood" on the floor, in the sink and in the toilet. Someone had even made an attempt to stop the bleeding from Alice's wounds, but her injuries were to severe. The living room rug had a large circle of blood that had pooled on it and soaked into it. There was also a small blood trail from the living room into the bathroom where Alice died. There was just so much blood that it was the belief that the person who killed Alice must have had blood transferred onto his/her person. And if that was the case washing up would have not only been necessary but also the logical thing to do so as not to leave crime scene evidence behind.So the Maine State Police pulled the sink traps in the apartment looking for signs of blood. We do know that blood tests were conducted on the fire escape and stairway leading downstairs.
Bob Margiloff who found Alice's body with her boyfriend was asked by authorities if he might have accidentally stepped into blood at the crime scene. He did not know, but he told them the kind of sneakers that he was wearing and the design on the bottom of them. But there was something else - a palm print.
Margiloff said during my interview with him that "Stephen was playing detective" looking around the apartment for anything he could find and pointed to what he thought was some blood on a wall. We don't know about the wall, but there was a bloody palm print (condition unknown) on the one door of the apartment. That door was removed and taken as crime scene evidence by the Maine State Police.The story of the bloody palm print does not stop there. Shortly after Alice's murder her mother, sister and brothers were contacted by law enforcement and asked to come in and submit to a palm print test which they all did. We do not know if any of the other people who were at the crime scene were asked to do the same thing, or if they were asked about what type of shoes that they were wearing that day.
There was at least one thing that was not preserved that Saturday - Stephen Bouchard's car. He was observed washing the outside and cleaning the inside of it that afternoon. At the request of the Maine State Police he did surrender his vehicle so that they could process it using a serology test that looked for any possible blood evidence.
Twenty-Nine Years Later
As far as we know we are where we were since this work started in 2008 - eight years ago - still waiting for something - anything. Not necessarily information, but just a small sliver of hope for the family that this case is close to being or can be resolved. Recent public comments by the Maine State Police stated that they believe that they know who was responsible for Alice's murder. Sadly - at this time - they cannot close the deal.
If law enforcement cannot go forward without the overused term "smoking gun" or the "sure thing" - if the forensic examination concluded and the preserved case evidence after eight years is not helping, or cannot solve the case - if the only thing left is the hope of a confession then we have all lost because there is no reason for the person who killed Alice to confess to anything. That person is and remains untouchable, has beaten our trained law enforcement authorities, is so cunning that even when forensic examination was science fiction at the time of the murder managed to leave a crime scene behind and allude arrest even to this day. The only thing that the murder has to deal with is a guilty conscience unless that person is a psychopath and devoid of any feelings of guilt or remorse. Sometimes - because of circumstances - the bad guy wins.
Regardless of the current situation we continue to BELIEVE - to push forward - and to follow the path until the end of the trail. And after that we will make our own path - to continue to shout from the rooftops because that is what we do - what we have to do - and what we will do because we are advocates for Alice. We will do all that we can while we can. That is the meaning of We're Not Going Away (WNGA).
At The End of the Day
We are not law enforcement. We do not want to write anything here - or on Alice's web site - that would jeopardize an ongoing investigation. We are not trying to solve Alice's murder and most importantly we are not pointing the finger of guilt at anyone. Nor are we trying to be critical of anyone or anything. We are raising issues and asking questions some of which have been addressed before in news articles at the time. And as part of full disclosure we have written about and revealed some things that others outside of law enforcement do not know. Some of it is peripheral, but not all. That would not be possible without some professionals who were on scene at the time being willing to talk to us. They did so out of frustration and anger. Also it is important to say that there are some things that we have not shared. We hope that we will not arrive at the point where we feel that we have no reason to hold that information back. We continue to believe in the system and the value of the evidence and that there is no way that a person can do what was done to Alice and exit this life without facing the bar of justice.
What Can You Do?
We sometimes receive emails asking what can be done to help Alice and her case? The offers are kind - sometimes offering financial support to defray costs of maintaining the web site or assisting with anything that might be needed. Those offers are much appreciated. However we are, have been and will continue to be self sufficient. Having said that there are some things that everyone reading these words can do depending upon your position. If you are a praying person please pray for the Maine State Police and everyone associated with working Alice's case. If you are not the praying type please consider believing and thinking positive for the same reasons. Also - sharing this Facebook page and Alice's web site with others would be much appreciated. We are not interested in numbers and likes as much as the power of people who can pray or think positive. To that end we need as many people who are interested in helping us in those ways and it costs nothing except a little time.
It is not our intention to magnify Alice in death beyond what she was in life. We are all human and have faults. There are no saints in the parade of life, but there are some very special people who come along once in a while and she was one of them who not only liked and cared about others, but could also be counted on to help anyone in a time of need. And then there was that infectious smile.
Alice did not deserve what happened to her. She did not deserve to be betrayed by someone who she knew and had the misfortune of trusting. She did not deserve to be left alone on her bathroom floor knowing full well what had happened to her - who did it - and feeling herself slip away into unconsciousness followed by death.
Alice does deserve justice. She does deserve to not be forgotten or remembered as just another statistic of violent crime. And the person who not only took her life and devastated her family does deserve to arrested, tried and convicted for her senseless murder.
And so on this twenty-ninth anniversary of Alice's murder we pause to say once again that we have not forgotten what happened to her or the unfinished business associated with her murder. Alice cannot speak for herself and that is why we do. We are her voice.
October 4, 2016
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