Hundreds of people gathered Sunday afternoon at Scarborough High School to celebrate the life of 82-year-old James Pearson, who was stabbed to death last month outside his home.

Pearson owned Beech Ridge Farm on Beech Ridge Road, where he raised and sold Christmas trees. Pearson was well known in the community. He began teaching at Gorham High School in 1962 and retired in 1987, according to his obituary.

“He had a big heart. Sometimes (he) might not want you to know that,” Scarborough Police Chief Robbie Moulton told News Center Maine (WCSH/WLBZ) on Sunday. “He was the kind of guy that could fix anything, could build anything, make anything.”

Jim Pearson of Beech Ridge Farm in Scarborough pauses while driving his tractor on Nov. 30, 1999. Press Herald file photo

In a post on the police department’s Facebook page on Thursday, Moulton recalled getting the phone call about the fatal attack on Pearson.

“Jim Pearson, an iconic Scarborough man, had been murdered in his own driveway in our very town, a town that Mary and I both grew up in,” Moulton wrote, referring to Pearson’s daughter. “How could this happen?”

Sgt. Mary Pearson served as a Scarborough police officer for more than 30 years before announcing last week that she will retire.

Maine State Police described the Dec. 15 attack as random.

Quinton Hanna, 22, of Freeport was arrested three days later and charged with murder in Pearson’s death. Pearson was just one of three victims in a violent weekend rampage in which Hanna allegedly sexually assaulted a woman and tried to kill her before he robbed another person. Both of those incidents took place in West Bath.

A police affidavit gives no motive for the rampage other than his mother telling investigators that Hanna suffers from schizophrenia and may have been off his medication at the time of the assaults. At his initial court appearance, Hanna was ordered to have a psychiatric evaluation.

Hanna told investigators that he went to Portland to do Christmas shopping but got involved in a car accident and injured himself. It was not clear why he went to Pearson’s Christmas tree farm, but police believe he approached or broke into three other homes near Pearson’s farm.

Pearson’s family recently announced it will establish The Pearson Family Memorial Fund, a nonprofit that will help deserving students seeking to further their education in the trades, horticulture, forestry or education.


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