A Stockton Springs woman is going to trial this week on a murder charge in the 2021 death of her 3-year-old son.

Last year was the deadliest on record for children who have been involved with the state’s child protective system. More than two-dozen children died, five of them were classified as homicides, and this is the first jury trial.

Jessica Williams appears in court in Belfast on June 25 on a murder charge stemming from the death of her 3-year-old son Maddox. Bangor Daily News via Associated Press

Jessica Williams, a 36-year-old Stockton Springs woman, is charged with “depraved indifference murder” in the death of 3-year-old Maddox Williams in June 2021.

Court documents show Maddox had severe bruising and abrasions, a fractured spine, internal bleeding in his brain and stomach and several missing teeth. The state Medical Examiner’s Office determined after an autopsy that they matched marks typically left by “inflicted injuries.”

Jury selection begins Tuesday.

Williams brought Maddox to Waldo General Hospital on June 20, 2021, where he was pronounced dead. She told hospital staff he had been knocked down by a dog and kicked by his sister, according to an affidavit.


The trial is expected to uncover more information about what happened to Maddox and why prosecutors believe Williams is responsible for his death. Advocates for child welfare reform say it will also reveal shortcomings in Maine’s child protective system, overseen by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Child and Family Services.

Sen. Bill Diamond, D-Cumberland, said he has attended several child homicide trials and it’s not until then that the public learns how many times DHHS has been called to a child’s home, or how many times they agreed to remove or return a child.

“We don’t really find out – the public, the Legislature, the press – where things went wrong until there’s a trial,” said Diamond, who has served more than two decades in the State House and has made the state’s child welfare system and its issues with child homicides his key issue.

Diamond sponsored a law last year requiring Maine courts to give scheduling priority to child homicide cases.

Logan Marr suffocated to death in 2001 after Sally Ann Schofield of Chelsea, her foster mother and a DHHS supervisor, covered her mouth in duct tape. During the trial, jurors learned that child protective workers did not follow up on reports from Marr’s biological mother indicating Schofield had been harming the girl.

In 2019, a Lincoln County judge learned child protective workers only visited 4-year-old Kendall Chick at her grandfather’s home in Wiscasett twice in the eight months before her death, despite numerous reports from school officials and neighbors that Chick was being abused there. The judge ruled Chick died because of repeated physical abuse and sentenced her grandfather’s girlfriend to 50 years in state prison for murder.


Maddox Williams Photo from the #justiceformaddox GoFundMe page

After Maddox died, his grandmother Victoria Vose told the Legislature’s Government Oversight Committee in February that he never should have been returned to his mother’s custody. Vose told lawmakers and a judge that Jessica Williams had a “history” of abuse that DHHS was aware of.

She said when Maddox was 3 months old, his 2-year-old sibling overdosed on methadone. But Maddox was put back in her custody in March 2021.

“I was blindsided,” Vose said at the time. “I personally asked the judge not to place him with her, as did his (court-appointed) guardian. I had minutes to hand him over to her, a stranger that had shown no interest in him.”

When Maddox died, Jessica Williams was living in a camper with her former husband, Jason Trefethen, and three of her other children. Maddox’s father, Andrew Williams, who was in jail at the time of Maddox’s death, told police his relationship with Jessica Williams was volatile and ended while she was still pregnant.

Jessica Williams was arrested on June 23, 2021, at her mother’s house. Maine State Police spent days tracking her down.

She told police Maddox had been playing outside with her daughter and was knocked down by a dog. She suggested Maddox’s bruising and missing teeth, which Andrew Williams and his family mentioned to police in earlier interviews, were from playing with his siblings and falling off a trampoline. But the Maine Medical Examiner’s Office found that Maddox’s injuries didn’t match any of those explanations.


The Government Oversight Committee voted 10-1 in September to subpoena DHHS records from Maddox’s case to view confidentially, as well as the full case files for three other child homicide cases.

A spokesperson for DHHS said in an email Monday that the safety of Maine children is the agency’s highest priority, and it has made changes in the last several years, including hiring more caseworkers and increasing resources to foster families.

“The Department accelerated planned improvements and strove to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic and its secondary effects, which resulted in more children at risk of abuse and neglect, more substance use disorders among parents, and strained systems of care to support them – in Maine and nationwide,” wrote Jackie Farwell.

The Office of Child and Family Services reported 29 child fatalities in 2021. Not all 29 are linked to abuse and neglect. Some, the agency noted, might’ve been accidental or natural deaths flagged because a family had an unrelated prior involvement with DHHS.

Hilary Goding of Old Town, whose 3-year-old daughter Hailey died of a fentanyl overdose last year, pleaded guilty last week to manslaughter and will be sentenced at a later date.

Ronald Harding of Brewer was indicted last June on manslaughter charges in the death of his 6-week-old son. He could go to trial as soon as January.

Trevor Averill of Buckfield was indicted in September on manslaughter charges in the death of his 2-month-old daughter Harper Averill, with a trial tentatively set for March.

Trials have yet to be scheduled for several other cases. Reginald Melvin of Milo was indicted on a murder charge in January in the death of his month-old son Sylus Melvin in August 2021. Ashley Malloy of Oakland was indicted on a manslaughter charge in the death of her toddler son Karson Malloy in March. And Mariah Dobbins of Easton was indicted in July on a manslaughter charge in the death of her 1-year-old son Jaden Raymond.

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