Wells police said they arrested the former Howland police chief Saturday on four counts of gross sexual assault after an all-night stakeout at a Wells hotel.

Carl E. Smith of Eddington had fled Maine after learning he would be charged in assaults on two girls in Penobscot County, and Maine State Police told Wells police Friday night that he had checked into a hotel there, authorities said.

Smith was considered armed and dangerous, so police followed him from the hotel to “the least populated area” on Post Road and Bypass Road, where they stopped his car and arrested him Saturday morning, Wells police said in a news release. Smith, 72, had a loaded Colt .38 special snub-nose pistol in his boot, police said.

The victims are 5-year-old twin girls, and the incidents allegedly happened last month at a residence in Eddington, Penobscot County District Attorney R. Christopher Almy said Saturday. Smith is not related to the victims, but he is not a stranger to them either, Almy said. He did not provide additional information about how the girls came into contact with Smith.

Smith fled Maine upon learning he was going to be charged, Almy said.

“The information we had was that he realized that he was going to get charged so he left the state. He went west as far as North Dakota, and then decided to come back,” Almy said, adding that Smith was in telephone contact with a Maine State Police detective when he was out of state.

State police alerted Wells police Friday night that Smith had rented a hotel room in the York County town, according to Wells police statement. State police were seeking him pursuant to an arrest warrant issued in Penobscot County.

“It was determined that attempting to arrest Smith at the hotel would put the public at undue risk,” said the Wells police statement.

State police kept the hotel under surveillance until 4 a.m. Saturday, then Wells police continued to watch until 10 a.m., when he checked out. They followed his car in an unmarked vehicle and blocked northbound and southbound traffic until Smith was taken into custody without incident, the news release said.

Smith was taken to Southern Maine Medical Center in Biddeford for a mental evaluation. Following that exam, he was brought to the York County Jail in Alfred, where he was being held without bail Saturday night.

Smith was a law enforcement officer for 18 years, serving the last 13 as police chief in Howland before leaving law enforcement in 1988, the news release said. He also served in the military for 32 years.

Almy said he was not aware of any previous arrests of Smith.

Howland is a town in Penobscot County about 30 miles north of Bangor.

Smith is the second former high-ranking law enforcement officer in recent months to be arrested on sexual assault charges involving children.

Andrew Demers Jr., 73, of New Gloucester, a former chief of the Maine State Police, was arrested March 17 on a charge of unlawful sexual contact with a minor for incidents that occurred between Feb. 14 and March 14. A Cumberland County grand jury later indicted him on an elevated charge of gross sexual assault, a class A felony punishable by up to 30 years in prison.

Demers has admitted having sexual contact with a 4-year-old relative, according to the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office.

No court date has been set for Demers to be arraigned. He remains free on $5,000 cash bail posted after his arrest.

Noel K. Gallagher can be contacted at 791-6387 or at:

[email protected]