State Police announced at a press conference on Tuesday in the Alfond Athletic Center that the man responsible for the murder of Dawn Rossignol ’04 last week has been arrested on parole violations. Lt. Timothy Doyle of the State Police said that he expects the Attorney General to charge Hackett with murder within the week.
“A one-week investigation into the death of Dawn Rossignol, which began last Tuesday, has gotten to the point that we are able to announce that we’ve identified the person responsible for that death,” Doyle said. “Edward Hackett, aged 47, was arrested yesterday by the Department of Corrections. He was charged with a parole violation. We anticipate that the Attorney General’s office will be filing charges of murder within the next couple days.”
Hackett was released last March on parole to his parents’ home in Vassalboro, Me. after pleading guilty to burglary and kidnapping in Salt Lake City, Utah and serving nine years of his 1994 sentence.
Police report no connection between Hackett and Rossignol or Colby College. Doyle said, “This was a random act of violence. Colby College could have been any parking lot at any facility in Maine. There was no association between Ed Hackett and Dawn Rossignol-the two came together and this was just a random act of violence… It could have been anybody he happened across that morning.”
According to Doyle, Rossignol “was abducted and kidnapped from her vehicle in the parking lot at Colby College and was taken to the area on Rice Rips Road, where her car and her body were later discovered.”
The Department of Corrections assisted in the investigation by “identifying people with similar backgrounds who may be in the area,” Doyle said. “It was the Department of Corrections reviewing their records who provided [Hackett’s name]. We followed up on that and it’s led us to the point where we are at today.”
At press time, 9 a.m. Wednesday, the Attorney General had not yet charged Hackett with murder, but expected to do so within 48 hours.
“We’re at a point where the public is safe, the person responsible for this homicide has been identified,” Doyle said. “He’s incarcerated and he’s not going anywhere. We’re at a point where we need to slow down. We need to thoroughly analyze all that we have. The investigation is continuing, and in the next few days we will get to [charging Hackett]. For us in the criminal division, cases really begin at this point. We have a lot of work to do to prepare the case against him. We’re confident [that] we have the right person. This investigation will be ongoing certainly for weeks and months. We are continuing to follow up on leads and tips… and we are committed to being here over the next several weeks to fully investigate this case.”
Police continue to decline the release Rossignol’s cause of death or discuss any investigative details.
“It’s just prudent that we don’t discuss the details, and at some point all that will come out,” Doyle said. “Usually those details are better left for judicial proceedings.”
Town officials in Vassalboro told Jennifer Sullivan of WMTW that state police arrived at the Town Office around noon on Monday and requested use of the office for “an ongoing investigation.” Reportedly, police first asked to use the fire station on Route 32 in East Vassalboro without explaining their purpose.
Town Manager Michael Vashon and Fire Chief Eric Rowe told Sullivan that three or four hours later, Maine Warden Service officials also used the building.
“I think they’ve had a number of surveillance helicopters in the area,” Vashon told WMTW.
As far as they have found, Police see no connections between this case and other similar abductions this year. Doyle said, “We are aware of other attempted abductions involving college communities across New England and to our knowledge there is no connection between this case and any of those.”
State Police gratefully acknowledged the cooperation between various groups that led to the apprehension including the Waterville and Oakland Police Departments, the Colby College administration, faculty, staff and students, members of Waterville and Oakland communities, the Wardens Service, the Railroad Police, the Department of Corrections, the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Department, the State Police Crime Laboratory and other police departments in Maine.
“No resource has been left off the table,” Doyle said.
Although Doyle would not comment on any forensic analysis conducted by the State Police Crime Lab, he assured that “They have literally worked around the clock as well to assist us in this investigation.”
Chief of Waterville Police Jon Morris said, “This is such a great relief for the community. I think that people tonight can take a sigh of relief and recognize that this person is in jail.”
After a lengthy round of police statements and media questions, Colby President William D. Adams made brief comments.
“First and foremost at this moment, as in all others, my thoughts go to Dawn’s family,” he said. “I want to express secondly my appreciation to all the law enforcement and other offices and officials and organizations that were involved in this process.
“Everybody at [Colby] reaches out and feels the impact of this on the family. We remember Dawn in this moment as well,” Adams said. “There is a tremendous relief here but there is also a reminder of what has happened.”
He added, “I also want to thank members broadly of the Waterville… and Oakland communities as well who have been so supportive during this last week.”
Speculations surrounding campus security measures-what they were before the attack and how they will change-have risen since last week. Adams, however, assured that campus security before the attack was sound and thorough.
“We were and are very certain that the security measures that we had in place were appropriate. As I said, the circumstances of our lives here have now changed in certain ways and so too will our thinking about the ways in which we protect ourselves. But I’m very confident that the things we had in place were appropriate at that time.
“I finally want to observe that a great deal has changed for this place in the last week,” Adams said. “We are going to begin thinking very hard and systematically about the changes that those circumstances imply for us. We will be communicating more energetically about that in the future. In the meantime, we are keeping the security measures that we have had in place since learning of this, and we are also continuing to remind students of the importance of their self-awareness.”
Adams would not comment on any specific changes that will be made to security in the future. He said, “I think we need to look at all of the general areas of security that we would all agree make sense to look at. But I can’t predict exactly what any changes might be at this point. I want to take a good look at this. I want to consult with appropriate people and to think about it very carefully.”
Meanwhile, Adams promised to stay in complete and constant communication with the Colby community regarding this case.
“We’ve been very full in our communication with students about the changes we have made with regard to campus security…We’re going to keep those in place and we will be communicating again what those measures were. As I said, we will be looking at the longer term in a very vigorous and systematic way.”
This article was originally published in the Echo, Colby College’s student newspaper.