Maine State Police have named a paroled Utah felon as their prime suspect in the kidnapping and killing of an honors student from a college in Waterville, Maine.
The body of Colby College senior Dawn Rossignol, 21, was discovered last Wednesday near a stream, one day after her family reported her missing because she failed to show up for a doctor's appointment. Rossignol's car was parked nearby about a mile from the college campus and police believe she was abducted after leaving her campus dorm, the Associated Press reported.
Police have not said how the woman died, but said at a press conference late Tuesday they expect to charge Edward Hackett, 47, with the killing within the next few days.
Hackett was paroled from the Utah State Prison last March after serving nearly eight years for felony kidnapping. Under an interstate compact agreement, Maine authorities agreed to supervise Hackett, Utah Department of Corrections spokesman Jack Ford said.
Hackett's parents live in Vassalboro, Maine. That's not far from Waterville, a central Maine town of about 15,000, which police say rarely sees any violent crime. The entire state of Maine generally has fewer than 20 homicides each year.
Interstate compact agreements between states allow some parolees to live with family members in other states while carrying out the conditions of their parole, but only after local authorities agree. More than 100 Utah parolees are fulfilling the conditions of parole outside Utah, and about 125 parolees from other places are in Salt Lake County under the supervision of Adult Probation and Parole, AP&P spokesman Bradley Bassi said.
If Hackett kidnapped and killed Rossignol, as Maine authorities suggest, the crime is eerily similar to the one for which he was convicted in Utah.
In March 1992, Hackett kidnapped a Salt Lake woman at knifepoint one evening as she was leaving her job, Ford said. He forced the woman to drive to Ogden and allegedly sexually assaulted her in the car during the trip. At some point, the pair was noticed by a police officer driving on the same roadway. He pulled the car over and arrested Hackett when he tried to flee, Ford said.
Hackett was charged with aggravated kidnapping, rape and aggravated sexual assault, and was sent to the state hospital in Provo for a psychological evaluation, Ford said. He spent two years there before pleading guilty to one count of second-degree felony kidnapping in 1994.
Hackett was first sent to the Utah prison in 1979 on a felony theft conviction. He twice escaped and was returned to Point of the Mountain before the 1992 kidnapping, Ford said.
State Police Lt. Timothy Doyle told the AP that police were pointed in Hackett's direction by the Department of Corrections, which checked Hackett's background and identified him as a possible suspect. Hackett and Rossignol reportedly did not know each other, and Hackett had no connection to the college.
"This was a random act of violence," Doyle said.
Contributing: Associated Press