Elderly women slain in her home


Posted: June 22
Updated: Today at 12:03 AM
Farmington woman, 81, slain in home invasion
Authorities say an unknown assailant broke into Grace Burton’s apartment and attacked her.

FARMINGTON — An 81-year-old woman died Tuesday after she was attacked in a nighttime home invasion at an apartment complex for elderly and low-income people.

Farmington police are asking for help in finding the man who attacked Grace Burton, 81, at the Margaret Chase Smith Apartments in Farmington early Tuesday. Burton died at a Lewiston hospital hours after the attack.

Aaron Stevens, 21, talks with reporters Tuesday at the Margaret Chase Smith Apartments in Farmington, where his grandmother lives. He said the attack on Grace Burton, 81, makes him worry about his grandmother’s safety. Stevens was staying with his grandmother on Monday night and saw the police arrive after Burton called 911.

Police asked for help in finding Grace Burton’s assailant, a man who may have cut his hands and fingers during the attack.

Burton, who called 911 shortly after the home invasion at 1 a.m. at the Margaret Chase Smith Apartments at 195 Fairbanks Road, died at 7 a.m. at Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston, said Maine State Police Lt. Brian McDonough.

McDonough said Farmington police arrived at Burton’s first-floor apartment within two minutes of her 911 call. He declined to say what type of weapon was used in the attack.

McDonough said police are seeking a 5-foot-7-inch man with a small or medium build who was last seen wearing a black hooded sweatshirt with a black backpack and walking along Fairbanks Road about 1:30 a.m.

“We are making progress in this investigation,” said McDonough.

He said police were trying to learn the “full motive” for the attack and whether there was a connection between Burton and her killer.

Burton was initially taken from her apartment to Franklin Memorial Hospital in Farmington. From there, she was taken by LifeFlight helicopter to Lewiston.

McDonough said he would not comment on the cause of Burton’s death until after an autopsy by the state medical examiner.

One of Burton’s neighbors, who declined to be identified, fondly described Burton as a “tough old broad.” The woman said Burton was pleasant and mentally sharp and hosted get-togethers to play cards.

The neighbor said she would jokingly ask Burton why she wasn’t invited to play cards and Burton would reply, “Because you’re not old enough.”

The woman said she will no longer feel safe in her own apartment in the small complex.

Maxine Gilbert, whose brother-in-law lives in one of the apartments, said, “(Burton) went to church every Sunday, and she was very nice. … I hope they make him pay for what he did. I could see this happening in New York or Lewiston, but not Farmington.”

Gilbert said she is at home alone during the day when her husband is at work. She said Tippy, her black Lab, will protect her. “I guarantee no one can come in.”

Aaron Stevens, 21, who spent Monday night with his grandmother at her apartment, said he was awake around 1 a.m. and saw police arrive.

Stevens said he was outside, throwing away trash, when police asked him if he had seen or heard any commotion.

After he said he hadn’t, Stevens said, he returned to his grandmother’s apartment.

Stevens said the attack “makes me wonder about the safety of my grandmother.”

Tuesday morning and afternoon, state police evidence response technicians carried items from Burton’s apartment, which was cordoned off with yellow crime scene tape, to a criminal investigation vehicle.

Game Warden Dave Chabot and his dog, Ruby, scoured the lawn and wooded area around the complex. Evidence markers dotted the narrow area between the back of the apartments and a patch of woods.

The front of Burton’s apartment, which was guarded by a Farmington police officer, didn’t show signs of a forced entry. Four angel stickers were attached to Burton’s front door; shrubs and daisies, colorful potted flowers and solar lights decorated the small front yard.

On the back of Burton’s apartment, a window screen had apparently been cut.

McDonough asked the public to call police if any friends, associates or family members showed behavior changes that might be indicative of someone involved in the attack.

He said the state police can be reached at 657-3030, Farmington police are at 778-6311 and the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office is at 778-2680, or 911 on a cell phone.

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