March 15, 2010

Suspect arrested in 1995 cold case


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PPD photo Steven Richard Cutting, DOB 01-31-1962

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Family photo of William Greenwood, who was murdered 10 years ago, and who's case is still under investigation by Portland police.

Staff Writer

For the past 13 years it has been a weekly ritual: A Portland police detective's phone rings and Linwood Stubbs is on the line, asking if police are any closer to finding his son's killer.

No more. Stubbs will take a break this week. ''I haven't had a good day like this for a long time,'' he said.

Police arrested a man Saturday in the shooting death of his son, William Greenwood, who died after a night of partying in Portland on April 30, 1995.

Police say Steven R. Cutting, 46, of Palmyra, apparently driven by guilt, confessed to the killing, first telling a relative and then detectives that he shot Greenwood that rainy night.

The revelation came as a shock to the victim's family members, who said they did not recognize Cutting's name despite years of watching the case.

Police said the confession came out of the blue. Despite hundreds of interviews and years of effort, Cutting was never on their radar until this weekend.

''We never even knew (Cutting) existed,'' said Deputy Police Chief William Ridge.

''I never heard of him before today,'' former Portland police Detective Sgt. Daniel Young said Sunday.

Portland police gave Young a courtesy call Sunday morning to let him know that the cold case he had worked on for so many years had been solved.

Young was the primary investigator in the case until he retired and took a job with the state Fire Marshal's Office in 2005.

During the investigation, Young said he was approached by a number of people awaiting trial who tried to cut deals by offering information.

''We never found any physical evidence to back up what they were saying,'' Young said.

At the time of his death, Greenwood was a 36-year-old father of four with a steady job in a machine shop in Westbrook.

He took a bus to Portland from his home in Westbrook that night and spent time at two bars on Portland Street, Ricky's Tavern and Bubba's Sulky Lounge. He planned to take a cab home at closing time, but told a bartender that he had found a ride instead.

A 12-year-old found his body the next day while he was out collecting bottles behind Mack Trucking on Warren Avenue. Torrential rain had washed away much of the evidence that would have been at the scene.

Police did hundreds of interviews and sent an investigator as far as Oklahoma City.

Cutting emerged as a suspect this weekend after a relative told the Androscoggin County Sheriff's Office that the man said he was responsible for killing Greenwood.

The sheriff's office relayed the information to police in Portland, who interviewed Cutting on Saturday. He confessed to the shooting, sharing detailed information about the crime scene that had never been publicly disclosed, police said.

Cutting told police that he felt guilty about Greenwood's death, and that a break in another cold case last month had only intensified his remorse, they said.

Police last month arrested Roger Roy Bernier, 60, of Manchester, N.H., in the strangulation death of a woman more than two decades ago. Mary M. Kelley, 33, was found dead in her Portland home in April 1986.

Police have not released a suspected motive for Greenwood's killing. Ridge said the men did not know each other before that night.

The apparent lack of a connection between the two men ruled out a longstanding suspicion.

Greenwood spent time in prison on a drug charge as a young adult. For years, his parents had suspected that someone from his past -- a name they would recognize -- pulled the trigger.

''Nobody seems to know him. To the best of my knowledge, my Billy didn't know him, either,'' Stubbs said. ''(Cutting) just offered him a ride home and that was it.''

Stubbs was watching television at his home in Windham on Saturday night when he got a phone call from Portland police Detective Karl Rybeck.

Rybeck, who took over the case after Young retired, told Stubbs that he was coming over, that they needed to talk. Stubbs said he was ecstatic when the detective told him about the arrest.

He and his wife, Millie, finally got to sleep around 4 a.m. Sunday. It was a light at the end of a very long, very dark tunnel, they said. ''We've been going through hell for almost 14 years,'' Millie Stubbs said.

The family plans to attend the trial, and said they are eager to find out why their son was killed. They said they will ask prosecutors to seek life in prison for Cutting.

Rybeck did not return calls seeking comment, but Young said, ''It makes me feel very happy for the family. They stood by and were hopeful. I am grateful for the fact that they finally have some closure, because they are a very close-knit family.''

Cutting is charged with murder and is scheduled to make an initial court appearance Tuesday. He is being held without bail in the Cumberland County Jail.

Staff Writers Ann S. Kim and Dennis Hoey contributed to this report.

Staff Writer Elbert Aull can be contacted at 791-6325 or at:

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