NEW GLOUCESTER – A mother of four young children died Tuesday, a day after being shot at her home. The children’s father is suspected in the killing and remained hospitalized and in police custody.

Renee Sandora, 27, died at Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston. An autopsy was likely to be performed Tuesday, according to Maine State Police.

A second shooting victim, 28-year-old Trevor Mills of New Bedford, Mass.,  died overnight, police say. [Updated 10:40 a.m.]

The father of Sandora’s children, Joel Hayden, 29, was arrested and charged in the shootings Wednesday afternoon upon his release from Maine Medical Center, where he had been treated for injuries he suffered in a car crash as he fled from police. [Updated 2:15 p.m.]

Police on Tuesday weren’t sure of Hayden’s most recent address. He has a criminal record in Maine and has lived in Lewiston, Gray and New Bedford, Mass.

Police said there was a history of domestic violence between Hayden and Sandora. She had taken out protection-from-abuse orders against Hayden in the past but none were current, said Steve McCausland, a spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety.

McCausland said the relationship between Sandora and Hayden was deteriorating about the time their 3-month-old twins were born. It wasn’t clear whether the two were a couple at the time of the shooting. Police also were trying to learn more about the relationship between Hayden, Sandora and Mills.

A relative of Sandora said Tuesday that the family was not ready to speak to the media.

Hayden, whom police described as an unemployed telemarketer, has a criminal history in Maine that dates back to 2004. He has felony convictions for separate instances of eluding an officer and possession of oxycodone.

The Sun Journal in Lewiston reported that Hayden was arrested there by federal agents in 2004 in connection with a shooting in Massachusetts. The newspaper said he was charged with aggravated assault and attempted murder.

Police said Hayden led them on a chase Monday to the York County town of Lyman. Hayden crashed around 9 p.m. near Hawg Heaven, a restaurant and lounge at the intersection of routes 202 and 5. The car, owned by Mills’ mother, was towed to a state police garage and will be examined.

Sandora served as a volunteer driver for the Regional Transportation Program, a Portland-based nonprofit that provides transportation for the elderly and disabled. She had been a volunteer for about five years and generally gave rides five days a week.

“And then when her shift ended and even though she wanted to end her day, if there were rides we couldn’t figure out, she would step up to do those too,” said Sara Trafton, RTP’s executive director.

Sandora recently started driving again for RTP after giving birth to her twins, Trafton said. Her two other children were about 7 years old and 4 years old, she said.

Sandora had close family members who helped care for the children while she volunteered. After Monday’s shooting, the children were placed in the custody of grandparents.

“She has four beautiful little children. As dedicated as she was as a volunteer, from what I saw she was a really dedicated mom,” Trafton said. “We’re all in shock and grief here.”

While Sandora talked about her children often, Trafton said she never heard about the children’s father or had any indication of trouble at home.

“She talked about her kids and about her riders,” Trafton said. “She was just a bright, young, dedicated woman and someone who was there to do whatever she could to get people where they needed to go.”

On Tuesday, state police detectives and evidence technicians searched Sandora’s Bennett Road residence, a light-blue mobile home with children’s toys in the front yard. A police dog was at work in a cordoned-off area.

Jim Hutchinson, who operates a sheet metal shop down the road from the scene of the shooting, told the Sun Journal that he heard three shots Monday, followed by a conversation in which a girl said “He didn’t do anything” before three more shots rang out.

Nicky Andrews, a neighbor, said she heard shooting Monday evening but didn’t think much of it at the time. A nearby gravel pit serves as a popular spot for target practice. She learned later from friends that a dangerous suspect could be on the loose.

It was a frightening situation for a normally quiet area.

“It’s such a nice neighborhood,” she said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


Staff Writer Ann S. Kim can be contacted at 791-6383 or at:

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Staff Writer John Richardson can be contacted at 791-6324 or at:

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