Authorities are taking another look at three unsolved homicide cases following the discovery of the partial remains of three missing women.

Investigators believe they have recovered some remains of the three women that James Rodney Hicks has confessed to killing. Last week, the remains of Lynn Willette were found in Forkstown Township in southern Aroostook County, and those of Jennie Hicks and Jerilyn Towers were found in Etna.

Based on Hicks’ history and the discovery of the remains, investigators were re-examining the cases of three other women who were found dead in 1977 and 1980, said Stephen McCausland, Department of Public Safety spokesman.

He said there is no indication that Hicks is connected to any deaths other than the ones to which he has confessed. But “we would be remiss if we did not at least re-look at those files to see if there was any connection, ” McCausland said Monday.

In 1977 the body of Ellen Choate, 26, was found in Newport, and the body of Leslie Spellman, 26, was found in Northeast Harbor. Sixteen-year-old Joyce McLaine was found dead in East Millinocket in 1980.

Hicks decided to cooperate with Maine authorities in exchange for serving his prison sentence in Maine instead of Texas, where he faced a lengthy term for attacking and robbing a woman in her home.


Last week Hicks led police to an area behind his former home in Etna and a Department of Transportation dump in Forkstown Township, 15 miles south of Houlton. Partial remains of Jennie Hicks and Towers were found in shallow graves in Etna. Two buckets filled with cement at the other site held Willette’s remains.

Hicks was charged last week with murdering Willette, 40, whom he lived with in Brewer before she disappeared in 1996. He is expected to be charged with the murder of Towers, 34, who was last seen leaving a Newport bar with him in 1982. He has already served six years for killing his first wife, Jennie Hicks, 23, in 1977, although her body was not found at the time.

State police detectives and representatives of the state medical examiner’s office planned to meet today to determine what other sites would be searched for additional remains, McCausland said.

Cadaver-sniffing dogs were likely to be used at sites in Hancock and Penobscot counties that Hicks had showed authorities, he said.

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