Jeff Mailhot strangled three
young women, dismembering his victims with a saw. Mailhot then tossed
the women's remains into trash bags which he discarded in area dumpsters.
An Ordinary Guy
By John Larrabee and Russ Olivo - Rhode Island
Anyone traveling down Woonsocket’s Arnold Street in
the afternoon or evening will likely see a few hard-looking women making
eye contact with passersby, each hoping a lonely guy will stop to help
her collect the freight for one more toke on the pipe. Occasionally a
deal is struck, and — seeming oblivious to the risk — a woman rides off
with a stranger.
Jeffrey Mailhot had stopped along the ramshackle
strip of tenements and bar rooms more than a few times. The thirty-three-year-old
machinist would usually invite his pay-for-play dates to his bachelor
apartment, just around the corner on nearby Cato Street. As with so many
things in his life, the pick-ups were something he kept strictly to
But no secret stays secret forever. On July 16, 2004,
Mailhot returned home from work and found officers waiting to arrest him.
Soon he was seated in a small room at the Woonsocket Police Station, and
detectives were lobbing questions his way.
“Ever picked up a prostitute?” Detective Sergeant
Edward Lee asked.
“I’ve seen ’em around,” Mailhot said, “but I haven’t
picked any up…. I mean, I picked up a girl I thought I’d seen before. I
thought she needed a ride, but then she propositioned me, so I let her
His interrogators knew
otherwise. Mailhot was in custody on a warrant charging him with assault
with a dangerous weapon — in this case, his hands — and the complainants
were two women he’d met on Arnold Street. Their stories were remarkably
similar. Each told how she’d gone to his place expecting drinks and
relaxation, but instead found herself squeezed in a choke hold and
gasping for air. Each time the attack ended with him releasing his grip
and telling his victim to leave.
The detectives had also pulled several pictures from
the missing persons files, showing three women who had once been
familiar faces on the street. If Mailhot liked playing rough with
hookers, they reasoned, maybe he could explain a disappearance or two.
After all, it would be very easy for his game to take a wrong turn.
Lee gave Mailhot a hard look.
“This is serious stuff,” he said, “so try to be as
truthful as possible. If you picked up a prostitute, you picked up a
prostitute. If you’re embarrassed, we don’t really care. We’re trying to
get to the bottom of something. But if we start out like this, where it
appears you’re not telling the truth, it doesn’t look good for you.”
“It goes downhill from there,” Detective Sergeant
Steve Nowak added.
Mailhot responded with a nod.
“Ever pick up a prostitute?” Lee asked again.
The questioning continued for another half hour. Then
Lee opened a file folder and spread the pictures he’d gathered earlier
across the table. There was Audrey Harris, missing sixteen months;
Christine Dumont, gone almost two months; and Stacie Goulet, whose
disappearance had been reported twelve days earlier.
Mailhot looked jolted. “I don’t know
any of these girls,” he said.
“How are you so damn sure?”
“Because I never killed anybody. That’s what you’re
“I don’t know if anyone in these pictures was killed,”
Lee told him, “but they are missing.”
It was a eureka moment. The detectives knew they’d
struck a nerve. Earlier in the interview, Mailhot had revealed that both
his parents had died of cancer by the time he was twenty-two. Nowak
seized on that.
“You know they had proper burials, that they’re in
consecrated ground,” he said. “The families of these girls can’t mourn
and say goodbye. They’ll have to live with that the rest of their lives
— or until we get to the bottom of this.”
The only answer was a downcast look.
Lee spread out the pictures again. “What happened,
Jeff?” he continued asking. “What happened? You just pushed it too far?
Things got out of hand?”
Mailhot’s reply was barely audible. “Yeah,” he said
“It went too far.”
They melt into the world like average
nobodies, their dark secrets hidden by a mask of normalcy. They go to
work, pay their bills, maybe relax with a beer now and then. They have
friends who think they know them, but the only folks who really do are
According to some experts, thirty to fifty serial
killers may be prowling the United States at any one time.
Jeff Mailhot, one of the few to make Rhode Island his
stalking ground, is nowhere near the top of the body count list. He
dispatched three women with his choke hold; perhaps a dozen more
narrowly escaped. By contrast, some serial killers have claimed
responsibility for a score or more murders. Ted Bundy, for example,
confessed to more than thirty, and Gary Ridgway, the Green River Killer
of Washington state, pleaded guilty to forty-eight.
Nevertheless, Mailhot stands out as a
textbook example of such a monster.
Criminologists have sketched a demographic profile,
and he fits it to a T. The typical serial killer is a white male who
first takes up homicide around age thirty. The majority target strangers
or near-strangers exclusively. Though a few travel about, leaving bodies
here and there, most operate within a specific locale.
Beyond that, Mailhot displayed a predator’s psyche.
He killed not for money or vengeance, but for the thrill of it. He
snuffed out lives with his hands (never a knife or gun) to savor every
moment of his victims’ suffering and fear. He preyed on a specific group
— prostitutes — whom he’d come to regard as less than human. And he
concealed his horrifying depravity with an unremarkable, everyday
routine: He could dismember a body, toss the parts in a Dumpster, and
stop for a Bud on his way home.
Today Mailhot is behind bars at the Adult
Correctional Institutions in Cranston, and he’ll likely remain there the
rest of his life. When folks in Woonsocket talk about him, they still
use words like “quiet” or “nerdy” or even “nice.” Then they ask, how
could he do that? The police case may be closed, but the real mystery
Some possible answers turn up. You might hear them in
the gossip passed around a Main Street lunch counter, or read them in a
sociologist’s reports. And in his rambling confession (captured on six
hours of videotape) Mailhot offers some himself.
Nothing sums up Jeff Mailhot’s social
thumbprint better than the image he left behind in his 1989 Woonsocket
High School yearbook — which is to say, none. There’s a blank spot where
his photograph should be, with the words “camera shy” beside his name.
Even after the big headlines, most Woon-socket
residents could remember little about him. In the days following his
arrest, reporters scoured the city for details of his background,
badgering co-workers, high school chums, and even prostitutes on the
Arnold Street strip. Many seemed to know him, yet knew little about him.
“I’d see him at parties or in bars, always toward the
back of the room, never out mingling,” recalls John DiChristofero, a
former classmate. “That’s the memory most people would have of him.”
On Grandview Avenue, the leafy-green subdivision
where Mailhot grew up, former neighbors could describe him only as a kid
who kept to himself. A few thought they knew the reason: trauma and
tragedy had filled his early years. He was nine years old when his
parents divorced, seventeen when his mother died of lung cancer, and
twenty-two when his father succumbed to the same disease.
If he barely cast a shadow in the city he called home,
it was not for lack of trying. As he moved into adulthood, Mailhot
strived to shake off the anonymity of his teen years. He swaggered about
like a tormented Walter Mitty, trying on various macho identities. He
bought a Harley Davidson and a leather jacket and tried to fit in with
the crowd of weekend outlaw bikers. He cheered TV wrestling and took up
weight training to build a physique like that of the tough guys in the
ring. On karaoke nights at Box Seats, a local sports bar, he’d grab the
mike and shout heavy metal anthems by Metallica or Kiss. “I wanna rock
’n’ roll all night…”
Yet no matter how loud he screamed, few noticed. “He
really didn’t stand out in a crowd,” says a manager at Box Seats. “Bad
or good, he never stood out.”
His attempted metamorphosis may have
flopped, but somewhere deep inside him, changes of another sort were
happening. After several years at his stepmother’s Lincoln home, he went
looking for a place of his own. He ended up back in Woonsocket, at 221
Cato Street. There were four units in the aging Greek Revival house, but
two were vacant, apparently awaiting renovations. For a time an elderly
woman occupied the apartment across the hall. Then she died, and no new
tenant moved in.
That left Mailhot in the building alone. He’d found a
perfectly private cocoon. He did have a small circle of friends, who saw
him as something other than a misfit or introvert. They remember a
sensitive soul — generous, good-humored, sometimes even gregarious.
“The Jeff I knew was never quiet,” says a Woonsocket
woman who dated him off and on. “He was always laughing. And no matter
what someone needed, he couldn’t say no. Up to the day of his arrest, I
could say nothing bad about him.”
Nor was he the guy in the corner nursing the same
drink all night, as some Woonsocket bartenders have maintained. She
recalls him sitting by a campfire and sucking down beer until his head
was nodding and his words became mumbles. On those nights his friends
took his keys and found him a place to crash.
Even through the good times, though, she knew
something was wrong. Mailhot, she says, was more than a neat freak. She
suspected an obsessive-compulsive disorder. Every item in his home, his
car and even his pockets had to be in the right spot. He constantly
checked his wallet to be sure every bill faced the same way, with the
stack always a quarter inch above the leather. Visitors to his apartment
were afraid to touch things, especially his carefully sorted CDs and
DVDs. If they did, they knew he’d be on his feet a moment later, trying
to look casual as he anxiously saw to it that everything was in its
Then there were his dark moods. She
and other friends took note of the spare house key he hid outside his
door, so they could get inside to check on him if need be. “Sometimes he
wouldn’t answer the phone or come to the door for days,” she recalls.
“It was like he dropped off the earth.”
One evening she confided she was falling for him, and
was floored by his response: “He told me, ‘I’m sorry, I can never be in
love with anyone. I’ll always be alone.’ ”
The emotional swings grew more intense in the months
before his arrest. She remembers a night they were laughing out loud at
a comedy video; a moment later tears were rolling down his face. “I
asked him what was wrong,” she says, “and he told me, ‘I think I should
be alone for the rest of my life.’ ”
Despite his quirks and the shock and pain that came
following his arrest, she has fond memories of the relationship. She
talks of sitting behind him on his motorcycle, riding for miles until
they spied some little place with a pool table. He called her Butterfly;
she called him Bear.
She felt secure enough with him to introduce some
risky business during sex. In passionate moments she would allow him to
grasp her neck until breathing became a struggle. Then he’d let go, and
she’d gulp some air.
“We both enjoyed it,” she says. “I remember telling
him, my God, you look so psychotic when you do that.”
From time to time, as far back as the
early ’90s, Woonsocket police had speculated that a serial killer could
be preying on the city’s prostitutes, who seemed to disappear with a
grim sort of clockwork. In the summer of 2004, with three women gone in
seventeen months, the notion was once again making the rounds. “Just
because there was nothing,” Nowak recalls. “They just disappeared. We
had no clues. No suspects. They just kind of vanished. So it was always
in the back of your mind.”
But Nowak and Lee were not entirely convinced. In the
past, police had always been able to pin down the sporadic deaths as
isolated cases. Often the streetwalkers were victims of their own high-risk
lifestyles. Probably, it would turn out the same with Harris, Dumont and
The break came in mid-July, with a tipster’s call to
police headquarters. He suggested detectives contact Jocelyn Martel, a
local woman with an arrest record for drug offenses and prostitution.
They found her at a detention center, awaiting trial.
Martel told of a harrowing encounter with a man who
offered cash for sex, and then attacked her inside his apartment. Her
description of the building and its location matched 221 Cato Street.
The detectives got Mailhot’s name from utility bills, and his picture
from the DMV. They showed her a photo spread, and she picked him out as
In the days that followed cops tracked down several
more women who described similar assaults. One joined Martel in signing
a complaint. That was enough to get an arrest warrant.
But their first encounter with Mailhot knocked Lee
and Nowak off balance. He seemed more milquetoast than multiple-murderer.
He was polite, friendly, soft-spoken. His police record was clean. His
landlord called him the ideal tenant, a guy with a steady job who always
had the rent check. Though weightlifting had packed some muscle onto his
five-foot-three-inch frame, his fair complexion and cheeky face gave him
a Campbell Soup Kid look.
“He had the whole Jekyll-and-Hyde thing going,” Lee
remembers. “Everybody he worked with loved him. The landlord, he’s
yelling we should leave the kid alone. We thought, maybe he had
something to do with one of them, maybe two of them, but no way is this
guy a serial killer.”
Then Mailhot buried his brush-cut head in his hands
and began to talk.
“I just want to be totally honest,” he said. “I don’t
want to hide any more. I don’t want this shit inside me anymore. I want
to do what I have to, to help the situation, any way I can, and I want
that to be my last act. I’m not expecting forgiveness.”
As the minutes ticked by in the spare interrogation
room, Mailhot recounted his adventures in Woonsocket’s night town. Over
the years, he said, he’d picked up perhaps thirty prostitutes. Most
trysts took place at his apartment, where privacy was guaranteed. He
couldn’t recall exactly how many women he’d throttled, but he guessed
ten or twelve had survived and escaped. Mailhot’s words picked up speed
as he recalled the attacks. At one point he rose to his feet to
demonstrate his squeeze technique. He held his left arm in front of his
chest, as if grasping a victim, and gripped his wrist with his right
hand. “I lean back,” he said, “so it puts more pressure on their neck.”
With minimal prodding, he provided details on several chokings. On two
occasions his victims fell to the floor unconscious; both were back up
in minutes, and neither wasted time getting out the door. Another who
got away stood outside shouting that she had a cell phone and she’d
dialed 911; the cops never showed. One woman convinced him to back off
by playing the submissive slave. “She’s standing in the bedroom saying,
please, master, please let me go,” he recalled. “I think she offered my
money back.” “Any of these girls fight back? Any of them cut you or
anything?” Lee asked. “A couple of scratch marks,” Mailhot replied. “One
of them, she gouged my eye to get away.”
Things finally spun out of control the night he
picked up Audrey Harris. He was driving home after too much beer at the
K2U strip club when he spied her on a sidewalk. He pulled up beside her
and suggested a quick trip to his place. She agreed.
“I was gonna have sex with her, just straight sex,”
he told the detectives. “She got undressed, I got undressed…I went to
get her the money, she turned around, and that’s when I went up behind
her and started choking….She was kicking, scratching, trying to get away.
As she was losing her breath she stopped struggling. Then I let her go.
I looked at her — her eyes were open, but she wasn’t looking at anything.
I figured she was dying. That’s when I got the pillow. I suffocated her.”
“So it wasn’t accidental,” Lee said. Mailhot insisted it was. “I didn’t
want to do that,” he said. “But once I realized what was happening, I
was scared to death. I had to finish it.”
By his own account his actions left him stunned for
several minutes. Then he shook off his disbelief, dragged the body to
the bathroom, and stumbled to his bed for a night of drunken slumber.
The next morning he wandered to the toilet and was startled to see a
corpse in the tub. The previous night’s events rushed back into his head.
He called his employer to say he needed a day off. That evening he
wrapped the body in a cheap rug and loaded it into his SUV. He drove
about the city, searching for a place to dump his cargo, and then
returned home, convinced it was too risky.
For two days the body lay in his apartment while he
pondered how to make it go away. Then, like an episode from “The
Sopranos,” he used a newly purchased handsaw to dismember it in the
bathtub. An aerosol spray helped mask the smell, and a few drinks
steadied his nerves.
The parts went into trash bags, and the bags into
various commercial Dumpsters. No one would notice the small bags, he
reasoned, and he was right. He made the drop offs under cover of night,
but early enough to allow himself another stop at the K2U before bedtime.
Mailhot picked up Christine Dumont some fourteen months later, and
Stacie Goulet two months after that. Both women died in his apartment.
Again, the bodies were dismembered and disposed of in trash containers.
He no longer told himself the deaths were accidents. “Just an urge,” he
said. “What are you thinking about when you’re driving around to get a
prostitute?” Lee asked. “Sex or choking?” “Sex,” Mailhot replied.
“What’s the biggest rush?” “I’d say maybe the actual getting them into
my place.” “The door shuts, and …?” “You could say it like that.”
For nearly six hours the two detectives listened
while a butcher described his deeds. Since that night they’ve looked
back on the episode many times, and not surprisingly, they have their
own ideas as to why Mailhot killed. “For him, it was all a fantasy,” Lee
says. “He’d slip into this fantasy to escape his depressive world. And
once he’s taken that final step, once he kills, he’s like an alcoholic.
He’s had a taste, he’s addicted, and no way is he going to stop.”
It’s a bulls-eye analysis, experts say.
Criminologists and psychologists have described the typical serial
killer as a frustrated guy who dreams of being at the top in the pack.
He stalks his victims to satisfy that desire.
“There is a thrill and tremendous power to killing,
whether anyone admits it or not,” says Ronald M. Stewart, a forensic
psychiatrist from Providence who has testified at numerous criminal
“When someone doesn’t have much control over their
own life, they might seek gratification this way. They become predators.
They seek out targets of opportunity. Prostitutes are frequent victims
because they’re just that — isolated, desperate people out on the
The alpha-dog-wannabee theory is endorsed by Jack
Levin and James Alan Fox, criminology professors at Boston’s
Northeastern University. In their book Extreme Killing: Understanding
Serial and Mass Murder, they ascribe such a killer’s motivation to a
need for power.
“One common trait among serial killers is that
they’re losers,” Fox says. “If Jeffrey Dahmer had learned to bounce a
basketball, maybe he could have been the popular kid, maybe he would not
have killed seventeen people.”
“Killing is his way of feeling special,” adds Levin.
“In a way he’s playing God.”
In that context, Mailhot’s fantasies about motorcycle
rebels and TV wrestlers become something more than comical trappings of
arrested male development.
“He was trying to replace his inadequacies with
identities that imply power and control,” Stewart says. “That’s probably
what he was trying to achieve the whole time.”
Many serial killers are sociopaths, the psychiatric
term for a person with no capacity for empathy and no conscience
whatsoever. But that label doesn’t fit every case, according to Levin
and Fox. Some killers, they argue, neutralize their feelings of guilt by
dividing people into two groups; those they care about, and those they
victimize. And that may explain why Mailhot and others confess and
express remorse when caught.
“They prey on people whom they’re able to dehumanize
or devalue, maybe prostitutes, or the homeless,” Fox says. “They see
their victims as less worthy, just as Nazi doctors were able to
experiment on Ausch-witz inmates by dismissing them as vermin.”
“As long as he’s alone he can hold onto these
wrongheaded notions that he’s ridding the streets of filth,” Levin adds.
“But once he’s apprehended and he gets some feedback, the fantasy bursts
and he realizes he’s done despicable things.” Some psychologists believe
the killer’s need for dominance springs from chaotic events during
childhood, such as abandonment or extreme abuse. Levin suspects that
holds true for Mailhot. While his parents may have been kind and loving,
their divorce and early deaths could have left him feeling lost and
adrift. “We’re talking about frustration, catastrophic losses in this
guy’s life,” he says. “I think that’s a key to understanding this.”
Throughout his confession, Mailhot himself tried to
explain his motives, and his words jibe with the researchers’ theories.
He dismissed his victims with contempt and disgust.
“Maybe I was doing them a favor,” he said, “because they were just
killing themselves anyway…. They were just going down the toilet.”
He described his existence as purposeless, his world
as dark and ugly. “It’s stupid for me to be saying this,” he said with a
dry chuckle, “but with all the killings and all the bad and all the
drugs, the world is someplace I don’t want to be…I know I’m not doing
anything special with my life. I mean, I’d like to have a million
dollars and do all kinds of things, but I don’t have the motivation.”
Lee and Nowak asked if he’d kill again if had the
chance. “I probably would,” he said. “I probably would.”
A confession alone is no guarantee of a conviction;
after all, a good defense lawyer will make every effort to discredit any
incriminating statements. With that in mind, police quickly launched an
exhaustive search for physical evidence.
Even before Mailhot concluded his grim account,
officers from the Woonsocket Police crime scene unit were searching 221
Cato Street. At first glance they saw a typical bachelor pad, three
small rooms furnished with mismatched hand-me-downs and all the latest
electronic gadgetry. Before long, though, they uncovered signs of the
slaughter as they darkened the bathroom, and then sprayed the tub, floor
and walls with an aerosol can of Luminol. Every fan of “CSI” or
“Crossing Jordan” knows the procedure: the chemical reacts with the iron
in blood by producing a blue-green glow, and tiny traces that would
otherwise escape the naked eye shine and become visible.
The bathroom light went off —and the investigators
gasped. The porous grout lines between the tiles became a luminescent
grid, revealing the gore Mailhot had tried to scrub away.
Out came the tub, out came the toilet, then
floorboards, pipes, and sections of tiled wall. By the time the officers
finished their work, all that remained of the bathroom was a hole gaping
to the basement below. Every item and chunk of debris — carefully
packaged and labeled — was headed to a state lab for forensic scrutiny.
The hunt for evidence didn’t stop there. The mop
Mailhot used to clean the floor proved to be another trove of blood
evidence. Investigators seized his home computer, too, to determine if
he’d ever discussed his crimes on Internet sites. (He hadn’t.) They also
grabbed a Halloween party snapshot; it showed their suspect dressed as a
TV wrestler and choking a teddy bear.
In the basement, officers found a handsaw that
matched Mailhot’s description of the ones he used to cut up the bodies.
The officers then reviewed tapes from a surveillance camera at a local
hardware store, and discovered footage of the suspect buying the tool
just a day after the last victim’s disappearance.
From there the search moved to the street. Mailhot
had told Lee and Nowak he’d disposed of a latex glove and some small
body pieces by flushing them down the toilet. With that in mind,
investigators launched a probe of the sewer line outside his building.
They first explored the pipe using a small video camera attached to long
cable. What they found was an infestation of tiny worms apparently
attracted by high-protein material coming down the drain.
A public works crew then dug up several feet of the
sewer line. For all that effort, the pipe proved to be a dead end. The
lab team determined Mailhot’s diet had provided a feast for the worms;
he’d been sucking down protein shakes to help him bulk up at the gym.
At the same time some two dozen local and state
officers were scouring the Central Landfill in Johnston. Armed with
garden rakes and dressed in protective coveralls, they combed through
tons of rotting garbage, a stinking, sweaty task in the July heat.
Twelve days after Mailhot’s arrest an officer-in-training
tore open a plastic trash bag and found human body parts inside. The
state medical examiner collected DNA material and compared it with
samples from relatives of the three missing women. The procedure
produced a match, and investigators were able to tell Stacie Goulet’s
parents that they had found the remains of their twenty-five-year-old
While the landfill search turned up nothing of Harris
or Dumont, similar DNA tests on the blood evidence from the apartment
corroborated Mailhot’s confession.
By the end of their investigation, police had
gathered more than 170 items of evidence. Not one piece was ever
presented in court, however, as the defendant decided to forgo a trial.
On February 15 of last year in Providence Superior Court, a teary-eyed
Mailhot pleaded guilty to three counts of murder and two of assault. The
judge sentenced him to two life terms plus ten years. He should be
eligible for parole by age seventy-seven.
He made no plea for mercy. “Nothing I can do can take
away the pain,” he told the court. “I hope God can give the families —
both the victims’ and my own — some peace.”
Since Mailhot’s arrest, a few things have changed in
Woonsocket, but not much. The cops who prompted him to confess have
received promotions: Lee is now captain of detectives, and Nowak, a
lieutenant. Buddy’s Cafe, an Arnold Street hangout some saw as a
prostitute magnet, closed its doors after forty-eight years. The hookers
and johns, however, have yet to retreat from the area.
The relatives of Mailhot’s victims continue to
struggle with his painful legacy. ”I still get nauseous when I see
garbage trucks,” says Steve Krieg, Goulet’s ex-husband and the father of
her two children. “I try to not ride behind them.”
As for Mailhot, he’s adjusted to prison life, at
least according to the letters he sends his ex-girlfriend. “He sounds
upbeat,” she says. “I wrote back and asked, did you ever feel that way —
that rage — with me? He said never.”
Murders in Woonsocket
By Michael Levenson - The Boston Globe
March 5, 2006
WOONSOCKET, R.I. -- He smiled at neighbors, sculpted
himself at Power Shack Gym, and worked in a paper mill. Nights meant
beers at Box Seats, the local sports bar, or spinning tunes as "Jazzy
Jeff," a karaoke DJ, backed by his buddy, "Crazy Scott."
In Woonsocket, a blue-collar mill city of cheap
furniture stores, neon tattoo parlors, and old-time lunch counters,
Jeffrey S. Mailhot fit in like family. Chevy Blazer, buzz cut, and a
love for the Rolling Stones: A nice guy, they all said.
All the while, he was killing women in his living
Between February 2003 and July 2004, Mailhot
strangled three young women, dismembered them with a saw, tossed their
remains in trash bags, and threw them in dumpsters.
Authorities say he would have continued killing, had
he not met Jocelin Martel, a 27-year-old brunette he picked up on the
pitted streets where he trawled for victims. Now, as Mailhot, one of the
worst serial killers in Rhode Island history, begins a long prison
sentence, people are calling Martel, a prostitute with a history of drug
addiction, a hero. As everyone from the attorney general to the lunch
crowd at Simply the Best Bakery on Court Street hails the end of
Mailhot's bloody reign, Martel has emerged as the unlikeliest of
Mailhot, 35, had never had so much as a parking
ticket when he began killing women. A graduate of Woonsocket High School,
he lived in a first-floor apartment in the back of a large green house
with a brown picket fence, high on a hilly side street downtown. He
collected DVDs -- ''Platoon," ''Spider-Man," and ''Hannibal" -- kept an
electric guitar by his bed and a Harley-Davidson in the yard. When
police gutted his apartment after his arrest, they found blood under the
floorboards and bathtub, a bench press and mirror in the basement, and
in the fridge, Slim-Fast bars, Budweiser, and bottled water.
In February 2003, Mailhot was driving through
Woonsocket when he found his first victim, Audrey L. Harris, 33, one of
the prostitutes who worked outside the bodegas and Laundromats five
minutes from downtown. He picked her up, drove her to his apartment, and
almost as soon as he closed the door behind her, he turned, put his
hands around her neck, and choked her to death.
Unsure what to do next, he stayed with the body for a
day and a half, until ''The Sopranos" gave him an idea, he later told
police. He watched an episode in which Tony Soprano kills Ralph
Cifaretto and then looks on as a goon dismembers Cifaretto with a saw in
a bathtub. Mailhot drove to a hardware store, bought a bow saw, and used
it on Harris in his own bathtub. He threw the saw and bags of remains in
dumpsters in Woonsocket and other communities.
Then it was back to work at PROMA Technologies in
Franklin, Mass., back to the weights at Power Shack Gym, back to Alex
Market, a bodega near Box Seats, where he shopped.
''You know, everything you did for him, he said -- 'Thanks,'
'Thanks a lot,' 'Have a nice day,' " said Alex Castillo, 40, the
''I'm telling you, if anybody come in here and [said]
this guy is a killer, I'd say, 'No way, forget it.' This guy was always
clean, never dirty or smelling anything like that, just normal people."
Fourteen months after killing Harris, Mailhot
murdered Christine C. Dumont, 42, another prostitute. He followed the
same grisly routine, picking her up in his Blazer, strangling and
dismembering her, and getting rid of her remains in dumpsters.
Neighbors recall seeing Mailhot looking crisp in the
mornings before work.
''He was clean-cut, he was in good shape," said Joe
Pamula Jr., 53, a guitarist who lives in a white bungalow next door. ''I
never thought, 'You have a nutso living two doors down from you.' "
Although relatives reported Harris and Dumont missing,
detectives had no idea where the women were, said Police Captain Luke H.
Gallant. The women seemed to have vanished.
''The reason Jeff Mailhot got away with this, and the
reason why we were chasing our tails, is not because they were
prostitutes, it is because they got into a car willingly, there was no
fight on the street, there was no abduction, there was no neighbor who
would look outside and see a man and a woman having an argument,"
Gallant said. ''They got into a car willingly, and anybody who saw that
wouldn't think anything of it. And they were gone, they were just
In June 2004, Mailhot was cruising for his next
victim when he found Martel standing at night outside Thundermist Health
Center, a clinic for the poor in Woonsocket. He asked her if she wanted
to go home with him, and they arranged a price for sex.
In an interview, she recalled that they walked up the
steps to his apartment, and he let her in. The place was spotless, the
remotes to his entertainment center lined up by size on the coffee table.
Martel looked at Mailhot. ''Do you want to go to your room or the living
room?" she asked. When she turned away, he lunged from behind, and began
choking her. But she fought back. She butted him with her head. He
stumbled back, and she jabbed him in the eye with her thumb. And then
''He was hurt," she said last month in a Cranston
prison, where she was finishing a 10-month sentence for a probation
violation related to a drug conviction. ''He really wasn't trying to get
up to go after me, so I just ran out the door."
A month after their encounter, Mailhot murdered
Stacie K. Goulet, a 24-year-old prostitute, after picking her up at a
Fourth of July fireworks show at a Woonsocket park. Again, he bought a
saw, dismembered her, and discarded the remains.
Police were desperate for leads when a few days after
Goulet was killed, Detectives Luke Simard, Steven Nowak, and Edward Lee
received an anonymous call from a man on a police tip line: ''Police
might want to talk to Jocelin Martel," said the caller, who was never
identified. The detectives located Martel at the Gloria McDonald
Awaiting Trial and Medium Security Facility in Cranston.
''Jocelin was the one that prompted really the whole
investigation," said Attorney General Patrick C. Lynch of Rhode Island.
''That's what really sets in motion a full understanding of just how
evil he really was."
Sitting with Martel in prison, detectives asked about
the disappearance of Harris, Dumont, and Goulet. Although she did not
know their whereabouts, she recounted her own ordeal. She told them
about a short man in a green house not far from downtown who had choked
her. Later, she identified Mailhot in a photo and signed a criminal
complaint accusing him of attacking her.
In their investigation, police located Teese Morris,
another prostitute who was choked at Mailhot's house in February 2004,
and she signed a similar complaint. Three days after talking to Martel,
on July 17, 2004, officers arrested Mailhot on the steps of his house.
At the Woonsocket police station, Mailhot calmly
leafed through photos of known prostitutes, pointing out a few he knew,
until detectives put photos of Harris, Dumont, and Goulet in front of
him, and he cracked, police said.
''Oh, I know you think I killed those girls but I
didn't," Mailhot said, according to Gallant, who saw a videotape of the
The detectives looked at one another with mock
surprise. ''What do you mean killed?" one of them said. ''We never
mentioned anything about killed."
Over the next four hours, Mailhot sobbingly confessed
to strangling Harris, Dumont, and Goulet and to attacking Martel and
Morris. He told them about ''The Sopranos," the saws, the bathtub, the
dumpsters. He said he didn't know why, after three decades of humdrum
existence, he had become a serial killer.
''He said he was sorry, he didn't know why he did it,
it was an urge that was bigger than him, and he was glad that he got
caught because he knew he wasn't going to be able to stop," Gallant said.
''He didn't blame anybody for it, he didn't say, 'It's because my mother
beat me up,' it's not that he hates his grandmother, he doesn't know why,
and to this day I don't think he knows why."
Mailhot told police he enjoyed trapping his victims.
''His rush, for lack of a better word, was the act of
closing his apartment door behind them," Gallant said.
Police traced the locations where Woonsocket's
dumpsters are brought, and 30 officers spent 10 days raking through
garbage at a football field-sized landfill in Johnston, until a cadet
found Goulet's remains. Tearing apart Mailhot's apartment, they found
the saw used on Goulet, saw marks on the bathtub, and blood from the
victims. They tracked down a store video of Mailhot buying the saw at
Lowe's in Woonsocket. The remains of Harris and Dumont were never found.
In Woonsocket, home to 44,000 people, 52 miles south
of Boston, the disappearance of three prostitutes turned out to be the
work of a planned killer, a lifelong resident.
When residents found out, Lynch said, ''it was panic."
''It was like, 'Oh, my God, where did I move to?' "
said Lisa Boyd, 31, who moved to Woonsocket from West Warwick to start
Simply the Best Bakery. ''How do you kill somebody and cut them up and
never worry and wonder about their family and go to work everyday?"
When Castillo saw the kind man who bought soda at his
store appear on the news, ''I got goose bumps," he said.
''The biggest surprise of my life," Castillo said. ''It's
really confusing to see a quiet, nice person and after that discover
that he's a criminal. I mean, wow. That was really scary."
Last month, Mailhot pleaded guilty to three counts of
first-degree murder, one count of assault with the intent to commit
murder, and one count of felony assault. Sobbing in court, he was
sentenced to two consecutive life sentences plus 10 years. With
probation, he could be released in 2047, when he is 77.
''He made an incredible step when he pled guilty,"
said Mailhot's lawyer, Robert B. Mann. ''He said himself, he could not
bring anybody back and an apology wasn't enough, that's all he could
Last month, as Mailhot arrived at the Adult
Correctional Institutions in Cranston, Martel was preparing to leave.
With an 11-year-old son, she said she was looking forward to staying
clean and settling down to live with her mother in Woonsocket. She said
she does not consider herself a hero. After years of dodging police, she
wanted to help authorities stop Mailhot to protect other women on the
streets of Woonsocket, she said.
''The reason I went out of my way is because if the
shoe was on the other foot, I'm sure the girls would have [done] the
same for me," she said. ''Even though we all had drug problems, we all
had families and moms that loved us. I felt I had an obligation, because
I got away, like I had reason. God did what he did for a reason."
City cops reveal how
they stopped a serial killer from striking again
February 20, 2006
WOONSOCKET - Convicted
serial killer Jeffrey S. Mailhot told police he picked the victims he
lured and killed in his Cato Street apartment because he believed no one
would miss the troubled women who sometimes turned to selling themselves
on the streets to feed the drug habits they battled. But he was wrong.
As soon as victims Audrey Harris, Christine Dumont
and Stacie Goulet went missing, their families immediately contacted
police and began their own searches around the city.
And what the 35-year-old murderer also didn't count
on was a vigilant team of local cops, who would doggedly work to solve
the mystery of the missing women and take down a predator who was
determined to kill again.
"It was the hunt. It was getting them into his little
hole and the thrill once the door was shut. He closed the door and got a
rush," said Lt. Edward Lee.
Lee, a sergeant at the time, and his then-partner,
Sgt. Steve Nowak, would break the triple murder case and convince a
serial killer to confess.
Harris, 33, was Mailhot's first victim, disappearing
without a trace in February 2003. Her mother, Claudette Harris, would be
the last person to speak to her. Audrey called to say she was coming for
a visit, but she never arrived.
Over a year later, in April 2004, the 42-year-old
Dumont disappeared, leaving behind uncashed disability checks. Then
police started looking for a possible connection.
"We thought something was wrong after Christine. The
city has a history of prostitute murders and prostitutes going missing.
After the second victim disappeared - and so close together to the first
- we started looking in that direction," said Nowak.
Detectives were handling the cases as missing persons
investigations, until Stacie Goulet, 25, vanished on July 3, 2004.
She was last seen at a fireworks display at the World
War II Veterans Memorial State Park.
A break in the case
Soon after Goulet went missing, detectives got an
anonymous tip. That led them to a woman named Jocilin Martel.
Detectives found Martel at the Adult Correctional
Institutions (ACI), incarcerated on a probation violation related to a
drug charge. She would tell them about how she agreed to go with a man
to his apartment at 221 Cato St. who then attacked her.
When Lee returned to police headquarters, he checked
police records and found an incident report filed by a city woman named
Teese Morris for a similar assault at the Cato Street residence. Both
attacks happened sometime between the disappearances of Audrey Harris
and Christine Dumont.
When Lee interviewed Morris, she would tell a
horrific story about a life and death struggle between herself and the
At first everything is nice, Morris tells police.
She's happy to be with a cute guy for once and he's polite and talking
"Then he just comes up from behind her and grabbed
her. She can actually feel herself going out," Lee said.
The pair would engage in a violent battle: Morris
kicking her attacker, kicking at the kitchen table, the refrigerator.
They ended up in the bedroom and onto the bed. She tried to escape by
kicking out a window until she finally was able to get away from the man
later identified as Mailhot, Lee said.
"She's pleading for her life. The way she describes
it, it was unbelievable. Then he stopped, just stopped," Lee said.
It was a similar situation for Jocilin, Nowak said.
She would get away by jamming her finger in Mailhot's eye.
There was a third victim police talked to, but she
refused to file a complaint, the detectives said.
Getting statements about the attacks from the two
women was the break in the case they needed. The detectives identified
Mailhot through utility bills and a picture of him from the Department
of Motor Vehicles. Both Morris and Martel identified him in a picture
"We went to our supervisors and said 'this guy is
playing choking games,"' Lee said.
Armed with arrest warrants for the assaults, Lee and
Nowak staked out the Cato Hill apartment building, waiting for their
assault suspect to arrive home.
A 'nice kid' turns serial killer
How is it that such an unremarkable man become one of
the state's most brutal killers?
A family acquaintance said that as a boy, Mailhot
grew up on River Road in Lincoln near the Spurwink School with his
sister and parents, who both worked at the former Almacs on Mendon Road
The family moved to the city where Mailhot graduated
from Woonsocket High School in 1989, yet his senior photograph doesn't
appear, only listing him as a camera shy.
Neighbors where he lived on Grandview Avenue were
shocked to learn what Mailhot had been accused of, although he was a
loner who didn't bother with other children.
Old girlfriends, friends and co-workers were in
disbelief at the charges filed against Mailhot. He reportedly told his
sister of his crimes the day he got arrested and wrote a letter to a
woman where he worked apologizing for what he did.
During the murder investigation, a Cato Street
neighbor accused cops of setting him up. His landlord called him a nice
kid who paid his rent on time.
By the time he was 17, Mailhot's mother had died of
cancer. Five years later, his father was dead too.
Police said he liked bodybuilding, motorcycles and
had an extensive video collection with his entertainment tastes ranging
from wrestling, "American Chopper" and the "All in the Family"
Mailhot was the only resident in the four-unit
building. No one would hear the sounds of the attacks or cries of help
from the victims.
At 5'3" and a muscular 170 pounds, Mailhot was never
on their radar for the crimes or the cases of the missing women until
his arrest, the detectives said. He had no prior run-ins with police,
was a hard working factory worker at Proma Technologies in Franklin, and
liked to sing Karaoke at local pubs.
He also liked to hang out at some of the city's
seedier establishments on Arnold Street, where prostitution and drug
activity abound. It was on Arnold Street, just around the corner from
his apartment, that Mailhot met up with some of his victims.
"When we bring him in he's polite and quiet and
denies that he's ever had anything to do with prostitutes," Lee said.
It's late afternoon on July 16, 2004 and Mailhot is
sitting in the cramped interrogation room with Lee and Nowak.
Outside, in an adjoining room, other detectives and
officers are monitoring the interview inside.
Meanwhile Sgt. Gerry Durand, a member of the Bureau
of Criminal Identification (the police department's real life version of
the television show "CSI") is at Mailhot's apartment with Sgt. Marc
Turcotte to gather evidence in the two assault cases.
Back at headquarters, Mailhot changes his tune about
knowing prostitutes when the detectives inform him they have complaints
from his two victims and can place the attacks at his home.
But he denies knowing anything about the missing
"One of the things that strikes out to us in the
beginning of the interview was Mailhot's reaction when Eddie threw out
three big pictures of the missing women," Nowak said.
The detectives would ask Mailhot several times if he
knew anything about Audrey Harris, Christine Dumont or Stacie Goulet,
but continued to insist he knew nothing.
However, Mailhot would trip up not long into the interview.
"At one point he looked up at us and said 'You guys
are trying to say I killed those three girls," according to Nowak. "But
we never said they were dead, we said they were missing."
According to Lee, Mailhot didn't crack immediately.
They had to work him a little longer.
"Steve started hitting him about the families and I
just presented him with the impossible situation that teams of police
and detectives and all the resources of the state of Rhode Island are at
your apartment right now, but of course it was only Gerry," Lee said.
He would go on and threaten Mailhot with the fact
that if one fiber or a drop of blood or anything like that that could
put those girls in the apartment, he needed to tell detectives what
Lee would tell Mailhot that the choking games he
played with the girls just went too far - he wasn't a monster or a bad
guy - he just went too far.
"Then he started tearing up and I'm thinking, 'Oh my
God, he's going to do it," Lee said.
Mailhot confessed to the three murders within two
hours of his arrest.
"I asked him, 'all of them?' and he answered, "all of
"Where are they, Jeff?" asks Lee.
"They're in bags."
The search for evidence begins: Inside, and below,
The detectives outside start to scramble on the two-way
radio to let Durand and Turcotte know that their assault investigation
has now turned to a triple murder investigation.
"It almost felt like they were playing a joke,"
As Mailhot reveals the gory details of his crimes,
the on-scene investigators look for evidence.
Durand locates the bathtub where Mailhot reports he
dismembered the victims' bodies.
"When I started looking at it, I saw three striations
on the edge of the tub. Two are going on way and one going the other way.
And then it clicked: that's the saw marks," Durand said.
Investigators not only find one of the three saws he
used to dismember the bodies. They also had videotape of Mailhot
purchasing the tool.
Lt. Timothy Paul, who headed the BCI unit at the time
of the crimes, said he literally seized the contents of the bathroom.
"My guys grabbed everything. We cut the floor, cut
out the tub, the toilet, the shower stall," Paul said.
On day two of the investigation, they treated the
bathroom with luminol, a chemical that shows invisible blood traces.
The bathroom proved to be a treasure trove of blood
evidence that a crime lab was able to trace back to the three victims.
Investigators would even send two cameras down the
pipes leading from the Cato Street apartment building looking for clues
and a rubber glove he said he used. They cut out two sections of pipe,
one was located under the street and unearthed with a bulldozer.
Nowak credits the work of the BCI investigators with
finding the facts that would have been used to prosecute the killer.
"They're the ones who found the blood, they're the
ones who found the saw marks, they're the ones who dug up the street.
Basically me and Eddie found the facts of what happened and these guys
with their scientific work proved those facts. A confession alone does
not make a case," Nowak said.
In all, they collected 166 pieces of evidence against
Mailhot, including a strange photograph of him dressed up for Halloween
as a wrestler and holding a stuffed animal in a chokehold.
The Johnston Landfill: The search for bodies
Lee and Nowak continued their interview with Mailhot
for six hours, learning that he deposited the bodies in black garbage
bags with yellow handles in dumpsters around the city.
They would also find out that Mailhot panicked after
he killed his first victim, not knowing what to do with her body. At
first, he wrapped her in a carpet and drove around the city in his truck
only to return home.
Two days later it would be an episode of 'The
Sopranos" that would give Mailhot the idea to dismember the victims in
Mailhot would give the detectives a detailed account
of how he coldly set about on accomplishing the unspeakable task, at one
point stopping for a beer break.
Police had a confession and the evidence to prove it,
but what they didn't have was the victims' bodies. It was a fact that
added to the already incomprehensible grief of the women's families.
So the 10-day search began by local police and state
police at the state's Central Landfill in Johnston in blistering summer
heat and through tons of compress garbage.
It was like finding a needle in a haystack," said Lt.
Dennis Perron, who was in charge of the Mailhot investigation, "It was
absolutely the most atrocious place.
It's sad to think that will be their final resting
But even with the painstaking work in horrendous
conditions, Perron said the 20 or so volunteers were motivated to sift
through mountainous mounds of trash to find the victims.
Perron said he was at the site when one of the
Woonsocket police volunteers found a black, duct -taped plastic bag with
the partial remains of Stacie Goulet, reportedly pregnant when she was
The search was eventually called off without police
finding any trace of Audrey Harris or Christine Dumont.
Stopping a killer from killing again
Mailhot's average look and seemingly unremarkable
life belies the savage murderer he's become. The investigators closest
to the case still don't know his motivation - or how he took the leap
from an unassuming character to a notorious serial killer.
A look at how Mailhot lived is a telling snapshot of
the double life of Jeffrey Mailhot.
"It was like two different people lived in the house,"
Mailhot's belongings were meticulously organized,
said the BCI detective.
"His socks were facing the same direction and folded
and t-shirts arranged like they were categorized, folded in half and
placed in a file folder," Durand said.
But the sheet that covered his queen-sized bed was
too small. And while the rugs were filthy like the bathtub, the rest of
the rooms were immaculate. Downstairs in the basement, Mailhot set up a
workout area. The weights were in sequential order, perfectly organized
like his video and CD collection.
There are shades of Mailhot that fit the criminal
experts profile of a serial killer. A white male between 30- to 40-years
old, who enjoys the physical contact with their victims. They often use
their hands to kill.
He admitted to detectives that he was a bedwetter as
a child, but denied a history of cruelty to animals.
Mailhot even suggested to Lee that maybe he killed
because his parents died when he was young. But then he conceded that a
lot of people lose their parents when they are young, but don't kill
Lee called him an organized serial killer.
"The only mistake he made, what was disorganized, is
letting the two victims go," Lee said.
Mailhot was becoming a more efficient killer,
detectives said. He was also accelerating the time between attacks.
One thing is certain to police: If he hadn't been
Mailhot would have killed again.
"He made it quite clear," said Lee. "He wasn't done
after these three girls. I said, 'Jeff, this isn't over is it?' He said
no it wasn't, that he couldn't stop. It was a compulsion."
Last week, in front of the victim's still grieving
families, Mailhot pleaded guilty to three counts of murder and two
counts of felony assault before the case ever went to trial.
It is unlikely that he will ever see the light of day
outside of the confines of the ACI. He won't be eligible for parole
until he is 77.
Court hears how Mailhot dismembered 3
He is sentenced to the equivalent of two life
sentences for three murders, plus another 10 years for two assaults.
Thursday, February 16, 2006
PROVIDENCE -- Jeffrey S. Mailhot told the police he got the idea
from the TV show The Sopranos.
After he murdered three women, he dismembered them
with a handsaw in his bathtub because, like the characters on the HBO
series, he didn't know how else to dispose of their bodies.
Yesterday, he took responsibility for the crimes,
pleading guilty in Superior Court, Providence, to three counts of murder.
He also admitted to trying to kill one other woman, and to assaulting a
Calling this case "a more horrific crime than one
could imagine," Superior Court Judge Mark A. Pfeiffer sentenced Mailhot,
now 35, to what amounts to two life sentences in jail for the three
murder counts, plus 10 more years for the assault charges.
Even with that sentence, he could be eligible for
parole in 42 years, when he is 77 years old.
In the courtroom yesterday, family members of victims
-- Audrey L. Harris, 33; Christine C. Dumont, 42; and Stacie K. Goulet,
a pregnant 24-year-old -- clutched one another and sobbed as they
listened to relatives speak of the pain they've endured since losing
their sisters and their daughters.
Across the room, Jeffrey Mailhot cried alone. His
body heaved silently; tears stained his blue prison uniform.
"You sit here quietly, trying not to be noticed,"
said Audrey Harris' mother, Claudette Harris, looking hard at Mailhot. "I'm
here to tell you that all eyes are on you."
These women weren't perfect, relatives acknowledged
-- all three had ties to drug abuse and prostitution -- but they were
human beings, "not garbage to be disposed," they said, as Mailhot stared
at the floor.
"There's nothing I can do to take away the pain of my
actions and what I have done," Mailhot said when it was his turn to
address the court. "I just hope God can give the families -- both the
victims' family and my family -- peace."
Mailhot's own family was not in court yesterday. His
relatives have been in touch with Mailhot, his lawyer, Robert B. Mann
confirmed, but decided not to attend.
Early in the proceedings, Prosecutor J. Patrick
Youngs III described the crimes in disturbing detail.
Mailhot, he said, strangled the three women at his
221 Cato St. apartment between 2003 and 2004. He stuffed their body
parts in garbage bags and disposed of them in trash bins around
At least one of those bags ended up at the state
Central Landfill, in Johnston, where a body -- identified through DNA
testing as Goulet's -- was found after an exhaustive search that lasted
more than a week. The bodies of Harris and Dumont were never found.
The Woonsocket police first learned of Mailhot's ties
to the murders when they arrested him for assaulting another woman,
Jocilin Martel. Martel escaped Mailhot's grip, but eventually told the
police what had happened, helping them to link her case to that of three
Martel, in court yesterday, told Mailhot she "believed
God spared [her] life" the night of her attack so she could help unravel
When the police brought in Mailhot to talk about the
Martel assault, within hours, he admitted to every detail about the
murders of three missing women, Youngs said.
Reading methodically, Youngs gave the court an idea
of what the prosecution would have presented as evidence, had the case
gone to trial:
"When police executed a search warrant for Mailhot's
apartment," he said, "blood spatters or drips are found in the bathroom
and on the tub. The tub also had the grooves of a saw on it."
As part of their investigation, the police then
checked a surveillance video at a Lowe's home-improvement store, in
Woonsocket, on which they spotted Mailhot buying a handsaw on July 4,
2004, the day after Goulet disappeared.
Detectives found that saw in the basement of the Cato
Street building where Mailhot lived.
"Dr. Elizabeth Laposata [then the state's chief
medical examiner], would have testified that the groove marks made by
that saw were consistent with the groove marks on Stacie Goulet's arms,"
Interviewed after the court session yesterday, the
two detectives who listened to Jeffrey Mailhot confess, on the night of
his arrest in 2004, called that experience "surreal."
At first, he tried telling them he'd never had
anything to do with prostitutes, Lt. Edward J. Lee and Sgt. Steven M.
But two hours into their questioning, they said,
Mailhot confessed to the crimes, even admitting that he worried he might
"I placed pictures of the three victims in front of
him and he had an immediate reaction, like 'oh my god,' and then he just
started talking," said Lee.
"He said the first time he did it, he didn't know
what to do with the body, so he chopped it up in the bathtub. He said he
got the idea from [the TV show] The Sopranos."
(In an episode first broadcast in November 2002,
mobster Ralph Cifaretto is murdered by Tony Soprano. Unsure how to
dispose of the body, Tony eventually cuts it up in a bathtub).
Nowak recalled that Mailhot kept asking him and Lee,
" 'Have you ever seen anyone this crazy?'
"It was like he was looking for a reason why he did
this," Nowak continued. "We asked him right out, 'would you have done
this again?', and he said 'yes.' "
Outside the courthouse yesterday, after his client
had been shipped back to the Adult Correctional Institutions in shackles,
Mann said his client's decision to plead guilty was evidence of his
remorse. "I think it was an enormous statement, on his part, about his
horrible and really inexplicable acts," Mann said.
A few feet away, state Attorney General Patrick C.
Lynch called Mailhot "a depraved individual who I hope never sees the
light of day."
While Lynch praised the police and the prosecution in
front of the TV cameras, the families of the three victims filed quietly
by and boarded a bus provided by the Woonsocket police.
The crowd on the courthouse steps barely noticed as
the bus door closed and the vehicle pulled off down Benefit Street, away
from the limelight that has exposed these families since Maihot's arrest,
toward Route 146 and home.
Accused serial killer pleads guilty to murder
February 15, 2006
A Woonsocket man was sentenced to life in prison
Wednesday after pleading guilty to killing three women, dismembering
their bodies, and sealing the remains in trash bags.
Jeffrey S. Mailhot, 35, pleaded to three charges of
first-degree murder for the deaths of Stacie Goulet, Christine Dumont
and Audrey Harris. He received three life sentences -- two will be
served at the same time and the third will follow.
Mailhot also pleaded guilty to two assault charges
stemming from attacks on two other women. He received concurrent 10-year
prison sentences on those charges, one count of assault with intent to
murder and one count of felony assault with serious bodily injury.
He will be eligible for parole end of 2047, according
to the attorney general's office. He has been held at the Adult
Correctional Institutions in Cranston since his arrest in July 2004.
Family members and one of the assault victims
testified at Mailhot's sentencing. Many fought back tears, and some
expressed anger. Mailhot sat handcuffed, with his head bowed, dressed in
a loose prison outfit.
"Mr. Mailhot, I hope you get all you deserve today
because a lifetime of suffering is never enough," said Jocelin Martel,
one of the women he assaulted.
Prosecutors have called Martel a hero for providing
information that eventually led to Mailhot's arrest. Police Sgt. Steve
Nowak said Martel and another woman identified Mailhot in a police line-up.
Prosecutor J. Patrick Youngs said Mailhot confessed
to the killings the day he was arrested on assault charges. Mailhot told
police he approached the women and brought them to his Woonsocket
apartment. He then choked them to death, cut them up with a handsaw in
his bathtub, stuffed their remains in garbage bags and dropped them in
dumpsters, Youngs said.
The three women he killed had ties to drugs or
prostitution, police have said.
Audrey Harris, 33, vanished on Feb. 9, 2003, after
telling her mother in a telephone call that she would visit her later
Her mother, Claudette Harris, asked Mailhot Wednesday
where he had dumped her daughter's body. Of the three women, only Goulet
Harris told Mailhot that she hopes he rots in prison.
"Words right now cannot express the way I feel about
you," she said.
Youngs read statements on behalf of Dumont's nieces.
One of them wrote a poem portraying her aunt as a mother with a heart of
gold. Dumont, 42, was last seen leaving a friend's car on April 23,
"She was not a piece of trash you could dispose of,"
another niece wrote. "You got life, and she got death. May you rot in
Dumont's sister, Madeline Desrochers, said her sister
was a fighter, who survived being hit by train and an assault where she
was left for dead.
"You made sure she'll never fight again," Desrochers
told Mailhot. "As for you, I believe God will take care of you till your
Raymond Boerger, Goulet's father, showed Mailhot a
picture of his granddaughter and said that was the girl whose mother he
had taken away. Goulet, 24, the last victim to disappear, had two
children and was pregnant when she vanished. She was last seen at a
fireworks display in a city park on July 3, 2004. Police discovered her
remains more than three weeks later in a landfill.
Mailhot broke into tears when Boerger accused him of
bringing shame on his family.
While others were angry, Debbie Boerger, Goulet's
mother, said that as a born-again Christian, she was compelled to
"I have one question for you: do you forgive yourself?"
she asked Mailhot, who started to cry again. She urged him to read the
Bible in prison and turn to Christ.
Before the sentencing, Mailhot told Superior Court
Judge Mark Pfeiffer he can do nothing to take away the pain of what he
"I think he is remorseful," said his lawyer, Robert
Attorney General Patrick Lynch said he hoped the plea
deal would bring the families some solace.
"I have no feelings for Mailhot," he said. "He is an
evil and depraved individual."
Trial on Hold
November 30, 2005
The trial for accused serial killer Jeffrey Mailhot
is on hold until next year.
That's because Mailhot's Attorney, Robert Mann, is busy representing the
mother of Sergeant Cornel Young Junior in her civil trial.
Mailhot is accused of strangling three woonsocket women, dismembering
their bodies, then throwing them in trash bins.
delays Mailhot case
September 23, 2005
WOONSOCKET -- After waiting more than a year for
accused serial killer Jeffrey S. Mailhot to go to trial, relatives of
the victims got a sobering message from the criminal justice system
Thursday: keep waiting.
Acting on a motion by defense lawyers, Justice
Francis J. Darigan postponed Mailhot’s trial, originally scheduled to
begin on Monday.
Judiciary spokeswoman Sue Pegden said no new trial
date was set, but a routine conference on the status of the case will be
held Nov. 30.
Mailhot, 35, is facing three counts of first-degree
murder in connection with the deaths of three women who had previously
been reported missing by family members. Mailhot allegedly strangled and
dismembered the women in his Cato Street home, then discarded the
remains in commercial trash bins in the Woonsocket area, according to
Robert Mann, Mailhot’s court-appointed defense lawyer,
originally asked for a speedy trial. On Tuesday, however, Mann filed a
motion asking for more time to prepare a defense for Mailhot.
"What we said was we are still consulting with
experts," Mann said.
Mann also told the court he will be sidelined with
another lengthy trial stemming from the highly publicized shooting death
of Providence policeman Cornell Young. A jury is to be seated in that
case next month.
When the case does go to trial, Court TV is
apparently interested in covering the event.
"Court TV has called our office probably two or three
times since he was indicted, kind of like status calls on when the next
court date is," said Michael Healey, a spokesman for the attorney
general. "It would seem that they’re interested in it."
Prosecutors began calling families of the victims
yesterday with the disappointing news of the delay.
"The waiting is the hardest part," said Cheryl Krieg.
"At least it is for me."
Krieg is the adoptive mother of two children whose
biological mother, Stacey Goulet, 25, was one of Mailhot’s victims.
Krieg, the wife of Steve Krieg, Goulet’s ex-husband, said she and her
husband are hoping the trial will be an opportunity to begin putting the
trauma of Goulet’s death behind them.
The excruciatingly slow pace of the legal system has
been particularly hard on the children, especially the older one, said
Goulet, adding, "How do you explain that to a 7-year-old?"
A seemingly mild-mannered factory worker with no
prior contact with police -- not even a parking ticket -- Mailhot was
arrested on July 16, 2004 for violently assaulting two women who
survived. He also faces two counts each of assault with intent to commit
murder and felonious assault in those cases.
It was under questioning for the latter attacks that
Mailhot reportedly admitted he was responsible for the deaths of three
city women who disappeared between February 2003 and July 4, 2004. The
first to vanish was Audrey L. Harris, 33, followed by Christine Dumont,
42, and finally, Goulet, who disappeared after a fireworks show in a
Police said all of the victims were familiar with the
city’s nightlife and had ties to drug use. Mailhot is believed to have
trolled for victims in a handful of bars in the Arnold Street area,
about a block from his rented 221 Cato St., apartment, a mint-green four-family
where he was the only tenant.
Mailhot’s alleged admissions triggered an intense
search for evidence by police, who literally dismantled his apartment,
carting away the bathtub, toilet and a plethora of associated bathroom
plumbing. At one point, the city’s public works department excavated the
street in front of the dwelling to extract a length of sewer pipe
believed to contain important evidence.
But the most valuable clues of all came from Central
Landfill in Johnston, where more than two dozen state and local police
officers, under a blazing July sun, combed through tons of rotting
debris for a week. There, they unearthed physical remains of Goulet, the
only one of Mailhot’s victims for whom police ever recovered
recognizable body parts.
After the discovery, police formally
charged Mailhot with the murders last July 29. He remains held without
bail at the Adult Correctional Institutions, Cranston. State prosecutors
have put him on notice that they intend to seek a sentence of life
without parole, the harshest criminal sanction on the books in Rhode
Island, which does not have the death penalty.