November 5, 2012

Woman found beaten in Saco dies of injuries

Police investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of Elizabeth Williams, who was found at a Saco motel.

By Dennis Hoey
Staff Writer

and Beth Quimby
Staff Writer

SACO — A homeless woman who was found badly beaten Saturday morning in a Saco motel room died Sunday at Maine Medical Center in Portland.

click image to enlarge

Police investigate the beating of a woman who was found at the Sunrise Motel in Saco.

Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the state Department of Public Safety, said 55-year-old Elizabeth Williams of Portland died Sunday afternoon. The state Medical Examiner's Office will perform an autopsy Monday, McCausland said.

"We are now looking to the medical examiner for answers as to how she died," he said.

Police were called after the cleaning staff at the Sunrise Motel on Route 1 found Williams. Maine State Police and Saco police are investigating the assault.

State police spent Sunday morning in Room 19, trying to determine how Williams was injured.

"We have gathered evidence from the room and we've secured it for the night," McCausland said.

Police said a man had rented the motel room where Williams was found. "We have talked to him and he has been cooperative," McCausland said. No arrests have been made.

Motel manager Tony Singh said Williams had been banned from the motel premises for offensive behavior – she had stayed at the motel on at least one prior occasion – but returned without his knowledge Friday night or Saturday morning.

Singh said he did not know the registered guest's name because police investigators took the check-in records and payment receipts.

Singh said Williams had been told not to return to the motel because she cursed in front of his children and acted belligerently toward some customers.

Singh said the man who rented the room told him that Williams had been assaulted in Portland sometime Friday night or Saturday morning by a group of men. He told Singh that Williams took a cab to the motel.

A spokesman for the homeless community in Portland said Williams' life circumstances and her death are tragic.

Bill Burns, coordinator of the Preble Street Resource Center's Adult Shelter, said Williams frequented Preble Street for meals and services and had stayed at the city's Florence House.

Florence House offers emergency beds and permanent housing for chronically homeless women.

"A lot of people cared about her and she had a lot of friends," Burns said. "Elizabeth suffered through a lot of pain in her life but she was always a very positive, sunny individual."

Burns said that Williams had been married at one point in her life but he was not sure if she had children.

Williams has been homeless for at least a couple of years, he estimated.

Burns said Preble Street staff last saw her Friday morning. "She was waiting around for a friend," Burns said.

"She was a valued member of our community, someone who made Preble Street what it is," he said.

When asked why Williams went to the motel, McCausland said he did not know. Investigators are still talking to people who may have had contact with her prior to Saturday morning.

Police are not releasing any details about the circumstances that led up to her death.

The Sunrise Motel, which advertises as a residence inn, was the scene of three arrests in January 2011, after a 26-year-old woman told police that she was being held against her will at the motel and forced into prostitution, according to news reports at the time.

Lydia Ross Sholl, 26, of South Portland, Tiana Clark, 27, of Medford, Mass., and Wayne Hick of Scarborough were charged with kidnapping in that incident.

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

Staff Writer Beth Quimby can be contacted at 791-6363 or at:


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