Maine State Police have charged a Thorndike woman with manslaughter in connection with the death on April 2 of 72-year-old Joyce Wood of Burnham under what police at the time called “bizarre circumstances.”

Tara Shibles, 37, who is alleged to have intruded into Wood’s home early that morning, was arrested Thursday after she was indicted by a Waldo County grand jury in connection with Wood’s death, according to a news release from Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety.

“In addition to the manslaughter charge, Shibles was also indicted on aggravated criminal trespass and assault,” the release, dated Friday, says. “She was arrested at her home at 244 Gordon Hill Road in Thorndike.”

The state Medical Examiner’s Office in Augusta performed an autopsy on Wood’s body the day she died, police said.

Mark Belserene, administrator for the medical examiner, said in an email Friday that Wood’s death was “caused by ischemic cardiovascular disease, during home invasion,” and that the manner of death was “homicide.” He said there was no other information to release at this time.

Ischemic cardiovascular disease is also known as coronary artery disease and can lead to sudden cardiac death, according to a variety of medical descriptions.


The case is being handled by the state Attorney General’s Office. No police affidavit was prepared in the case because it was presented to a grand jury, according to Timothy Feeley, spokesman for that office.

“We cannot comment on any evidence presented,” Feeley said Friday in an email.

Early in the morning of April 2, a Sunday, Wood dialed 911 after a woman entered her home, between 3 and 4 a.m., at 261 South Horseback Road, police said at the time. Family members arrived at the home before police and placed Wood in a vehicle in the driveway.

At the time, McCausland said Wood “was stricken and died in the vehicle.”

“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 at the time.

Police found Shibles in Wood’s home and questioned her for hours but released her without charges.

Wood was well-known in Burnham, and townspeople said after her death that she was kind, well-liked and respected and had a good sense of humor. Her husband had died about 20 years ago, her son about two years ago, and she lived alone, they said.

Wood’s family members at the time declined to comment on her death.

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