If you search Google for Alice Hawkes, you can find the website dedicated to keeping her memory alive. On this site, alicehawkes.com, you can find everything on her case, put together by Mark Swett when he became enamored with her case while writing an article for the 21st anniversary of her death. Alice Hawkes, who would have been 56 this past week, was brutally murdered in 1987, and her murder is still unsolved (Swett). Beyond the webpage maintained by Swett, there is a surprising and somewhat disturbing lack of information available on the case. Alice Hawkes’ murder has been allowed to fall through the cracks of the media in the years since her untimely death, and that cannot be allowed. Lack of media attention can kill a cold case like this one, and I cannot allow that to happen. Alice Hawkes and her family deserve justice, and I hope that perhaps this short article can bring more attention to the case and reach someone who may be able to help.
The Saturday of her death, Alice Hawkes followed her usual routine: go down to the local laundromat, Pratt-Abbot, down the street from her house on Spring Street in Westbrook, ME. Her boyfriend, Stephen Bouchard, had plans to go golfing with friends at the local golf club, Twins Falls Golf Club, after running some errands. The singular disruption to their day was that Bouchard accidentally locked his keys in his car and had to have Alice bring him his extra key. A witness was found who saw a man and a woman standing by a car in the area at the time, giving credence to the story of the keys locked in the car (Swett).
Another resident of the apartment building Hawkes and Bouchard lived in remembered seeing her when she arrived home at approximately 11:00 AM, and helping her carry the large duffle bag of laundry she had with her. This resident is the last person known to have seen Alice alive, besides whomever her killer was. She put away some of the laundry she brought home and had a phone call with her mother that lasted approximately 40 minutes, to which her mother recalled her seemingly in a good mood. They had even planned to meet to do some holiday shopping the next weekend, but it never happened. Instead, Bouchard came home to find the door to their apartment deadbolted shut, which would not have been an issue if he had not forgotten his key to the deadbolt. The first clue that something was amiss was that, despite her car still being in the parking lot and the door being locked from the inside, she was not answering the door when he knocked. However, Bouchard surmised that she must have gone out with friends and continued to their golf game. When he and his friends returned later, the door was still locked and Bouchard went to his friend’s home in Portland, ME to wait for Alice to come home, and there he spent the night (Swett).
The next morning, October 4th, their landlord let Bouchard into the apartment with an extra key and the police were quickly called to the scene. In the apartment, police found a large pool of blood and splatters that lead to Alice Hawkes body, on the bathroom floor. The apartment was a crime scene and soon the perimeter was established; all those who were not law enforcement and investigators were asked to leave the apartment but not leave the land the apartment building was on. The crime scene was thoroughly documented and speculation on her cause of death began immediately (Swett). It was noted at the time that, while Bouchard’s key to the deadbolt was found, Alice’s was missing. It is believed by some involved in the case that the missing deadbolt key will solve the case. Bouchard was spotted going through her purse at the scene, which obviously looked suspicious, but after he and his friends were questioned, they were allowed to leave. This is notably unusual due to the fact that they weren’t separated and questioned individually, but all together. By allowing them to leave together and not question them separately, they allowed time for possible alibi building. If Bouchard and his friends had been involved, letting them leave together meant they could take time to go over the story they told police. Another unusual turn was that Bouchard was reportedly never considered a suspect, despite the fact that he was her boyfriend and the first people investigated in many cases are the significant others. It is known now that Bouchard had his own list of suspects who he believes could be responsible (Viles 2019).
The first thought was that she may have been stabbed repeatedly in the chest, but when her body was moved for the examiner it wasn’t immediately obvious what had happened to her. While the apartment was shut down and being investigated and documented, Bouchard made the phone call to Alice’s brother, Jim, to inform him of her death. From there, Jim would make the notifications to the rest of their family (Swett).
Unsurprisingly, rumors began to spread throughout Westbrook about what had happened. People said they had heard there was a cut on her body, but the official cause of death had not been released yet. Others heard rumors of knife wounds around her neck, but this was also unsubstantiated at the time (Swett). What was not heard, however, was what could be viewed as the “smoking gun.” Why was Alice targeted? Was this a crime of opportunity, or was this a premeditated attack on her? Police never released any information on if there was a reason behind the murder, and years later that is sited as one of the reasons this case remains unsolved (Viles 2019).
It wasn’t until after the funeral of Alice Hawkes that the coroner’s report was released and the true murder investigation was launched (Swett). According to the coroner’s report, Alice Hawkes’ had been undoubtedly murdered and that a kitchen knife had been the implement used. There was a cut to her torso when her body was found, but the cause of death was not released beyond “Homicide.” The family were unaware of the cause of death until they began to prepare her body for the funeral (Viles 2019).
As days turned to weeks, weeks to months, and months to years, the Hawkes family became understandably frustrated with the lack of information or so much as a suspect in the case. In 1992, they hired a private investigator, retired State police detective Ralph Pinkham, and offered a reward of $5,000 for any information leading to an arrest in the case. The reward raised to $10,000 before being taken off the table in 2002 (Swett). In 2016, one of the investigators said they had an idea who did it and what happened, but no name has ever actually been released. It seems that, over the just over 30-years since her murder, Alice Hawkes’ family has not been being updated as regularly as they had been when this all began, and this is another frustration on the family (Viles 2019).
The surge in interest in true crime and in cold cases, as well as the increased trust in DNA and other techniques that were not available in 1987, has increased hope that this case may one day be solved. Perhaps, like in the case of the Golden State Killer, familial DNA will crack the case wide open and the murderer, who has gotten away with this for far too long, will finally be brought to justice. With a large portion of the population watching television like “Dateline” and “48 Hours,” cases like Alice Hawkes are getting more media attention and the chances that someone could come forward with new information is that much more (Viles 2019). If you believe that you or someone you know may have information that could help solve the murder of Alice Hawkes, please call the following numbers for the Maine State Police Major Crimes Unit:
In State: 1-800-228-0857
Out of State: (207)657-3030 (Ousarf 2016)
Swett, Mark. “Who Killed Alice Hawkes?” Who Killed Alice Hawkes?, www.alicehawkes.com/.
Viles, Chance. “32 Years Later, the Killing of Alice Hawkes Remains Unsolved.” Press Herald, 28 Sept. 2019, www.pressherald.com/2019/09/26/32-years-later-the-killing-of-alice-hawkes-remains-unsolved/.
Ousarf, Elle. “Unsolved Murders Maine: Alice Hawkes.” WCSH, 4 Oct. 2016, www.newscentermaine.com/article/news/local/westbrook/unsolved-murders-maine-alice-hawkes/328838591.