Maine State Police are investigating the circumstances surrounding the death of a Burnham woman after an intruder entered her home early Sunday.

Joyce Wood, 72, dialed 911 between 3 and 4 a.m. after a woman got into her house on South Horseback Road.

Before state police and a Waldo County sheriff’s deputy responded, Wood’s family members arrived, found her and placed her in a vehicle in the driveway, according to Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety.

“At that point, she was stricken and died in the vehicle,” McCausland said.

The trooper and deputy found the intruder in Wood’s house. Police questioned her for several hours and released her.

McCausland said no charges were filed against the woman, who was cooperative and probably will be interviewed again as evidence inside the house is analyzed.

“This is a bizarre set of circumstances, and we need to find out exactly what happened inside that house this morning, and that’s the phase the investigation is in,” McCausland said in a telephone interview Sunday evening.

The state medical examiner’s office in Augusta performed an autopsy on Wood’s body, but the results are being withheld.

Neighbors said Wood was a widow who had lived many years at 261 S. Horseback Road.

“She was a loving, loving woman,” former Burnham Selectwoman Anne Goodblood said Sunday. “She was a very loving mother and aunt. This is just a horrible, horrible incident. It’s so devastating and heartbreaking for all of the family. The whole town is heartbroken over this.”

Detectives were on the scene from the predawn hours, searching the area and interviewing neighbors. About a quarter-mile from the house, a trooper and a tracking dog were seen walking along the road.

Officials from the Unity Fire Department closed off South Horseback Road to traffic on the Unity end of the road.

Across the road from Wood’s home, Ernie Glabau and his partner, Patricia Pagano, remembed Wood, whose husband, Ronnie, died of cancer about 20 years ago and whose son, Tim, a firefighter for many years, died about two years ago, they said.

They said Joyce Wood was a hard worker who loved her children and grandchildren.

“She was outspoken and blunt and she was one of the best neighbors I’ve ever had,” Glabau said. “You always knew where her feet were and where she stood and what she had to say.”

Wood baby-sat Glabau’s daughter Danya when she was young, and knew his other daughter, Tiala.

Pagano recalled moving to Burnham 10 years ago from New Jersey and finding a kindred soul in Wood. She had a strong Maine accent and Pagano loved listening to her, she said.

“She was a widow and I’m a widow and we used to talk about it,” Pagano said. “We would let down and cry, and then she lost her son two years ago, and same thing – we would cry. She was a sweet lady and I’ll miss her.”

Wood was outspoken, and if someone was acting like a jerk, she’d call him out on it, Glabau said. That was one of the reasons Glabau and Pagano held her in high esteem.

“She wore her politics on her sleeve,” Pagano said. “I liked her a lot. She was always keeping an eye on this place and if somebody came in, she’d tell you.”

But Wood also feared that someone would break into her home, and she kept a bright light on outside, Pagano said.

Glabau said he did not hear anything unusual early Sunday, but he got up around 5 a.m. and saw red lights flashing on the road.

Twenty minutes later, they were still there, and he went back to bed.

“I figured it was a chimney fire because there weren’t any flames busting through the roof or windows,” he said.

Later in the morning, a state police trooper drove up Glabau’s driveway and told him police were investigating a death, he said.

Amy Calder can be contacted at 861-9247 or at:

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