WINDHAM – A Windham resident with a long history of criminal activity has been charged with murder.
Joseph Green, 40, was arrested at his mother's home in Casco Tuesday night, a week after the murder of David Harmon, 44, of 73 Hall Road in Windham. Green was arraigned Wednesday afternoon at Cumberland County Unified Court in Portland.
The case was originally described as the death of a man who had been scoping hunting grounds off Land of Nod Road in Windham, but state police investigators now label the incident as a drug-related homicide.
According to Maine Department of Public Safety spokesman Steve McCausland, Green and Harmon weren't friends but knew each other. Police believe Green fatally shot Harmon while Harmon and possibly another person were trying to steal marijuana plants growing on Green's heavily wooded property near the intersection of Route 302 and Land of Nod Road, according to an affidavit filed Wednesday in Cumberland County Superior Court.
According to an autopsy conducted last Wednesday and referenced in the affidavit, Harmon was shot "through and through from back to chest" with a handgun. The gun and other items seized last week have been taken to the State Police Crime Laboratory in Augusta for examination.
Last week, McCausland said, detectives found marijuana plots on the property as well as marijuana inside Green's residence. State police were at the site for several days collecting evidence, according to neighbors of the property.
As described by McCausland, the neglected structure at 38 Roosevelt Trail served as a "business/residence" for Green, a former heavy equipment operator who has an extensive history of criminal activity in Windham.
According to Windham police Lt. David DeGruchy, the department has had more than 40 contacts with Green over the years, most notably a 1992 incident in which Green was eluding a police officer at a high rate of speed north along Windham Center Road.
In an effort to stop Green before he reached the intersection with Route 202, Windham police set up a barricade just below the intersection and Green slammed into it and was seriously injured. Green received $40,000 after filing a civil lawsuit against the town for setting up a dangerous roadblock.
Green was also arrested by Officer Matt Cyr about 10 years ago, DeGruchy said, after Cyr observed Green hauling six marijuana plants in the bed of his pickup truck. Green has also been arrested in the past for operating under the influence and for carrying a firearm as a convicted felon.
According to the affidavit, Melissa Harmon notified Windham police of her missing husband at 5:35 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 31. She told police she dropped him off at the intersection of Land of Nod Road and Cole Road on her way to work at 5:15 a.m. and last saw him entering the woods.
According to the affidavit, before driving on to her workplace, she said the two agreed she would come back to the intersection at noon to pick him up. She said she came back at noon during her lunch break, and didn't find him so she went back to work. After her workday ended, she told police, she went back home to 73 Hall Road in Windham and was surprised her husband hadn't come home. She told police she became worried and decided to call friends and family. She then called police to file a missing person report at 5:35 p.m.
However, according to the affidavit, Harmon was already dead by Tuesday morning, and in fact was killed on Monday, Aug. 30, according to Green's testimony.
"The story she gave Windham police was false and that's obviously something we're looking into," said McCausland. "She was well aware of her husband's intention to go and steal marijuana."
According to the affidavit, written by the case's lead detective, Scott Harakles of the Maine State Police Criminal Investigations Division, and released on Wednesday, Harmon was killed by a single bullet wound early Monday, Aug. 30, at around 4:20 a.m. (Neighbors who did not want to be named confirmed hearing gun shots Monday around 4:30 a.m. in interviews with the Lakes Region Weekly.)
According to the affidavit, Green admitted to Harakles "that he shot and killed someone" after becoming aware that "people were stealing his marijuana plants." Green told Harakles that he went into the woods at about 4 a.m. on Monday to confront the bandits. They ran away, Green said, and jumped a fence to access their pickup truck, which was parked in the driveway of a day care located adjacent to Green's property. As they jumped the fence, "they dropped a camouflage fanny pack and Green observed this fanny pack with a handgun hanging out of it. Green said he grabbed the handgun and began firing it at the vehicle" as it sped away, the affidavit indicated. Green then returned to his property, got in his own vehicle and attempted to find the the people, who had driven off in what Green described to police as a black Dodge Dakota pickup truck.
After being unable to locate the pickup, Green returned to his residence. While inside he "had a bad gut feeling" that the bandits were back stealing his marijuana. At about 4:20 a.m. on Monday, Green, according to the affidavit, went outside and "observed two silhouettes amongst his remaining pot plants. Still in possession of the handgun he found from the fanny pack, he shot twice in the direction of the silhouettes, which he told police were about 100 yards away.
Green then dropped the gun and ran in the direction of the silhouettes but found no one. After going back to his trailer and falling asleep, he awoke at 10 a.m. on Monday. He took his dog on a walk through the woods around noontime on Monday. During the walk, he discovered a body, found later to be that of David Harmon.
According to the affidavit, "Green said he took his dog back to the trailer and tried to forget about what happened. Green said he waited for the day care to end for the day and returned to the body ... at around 6 p.m. or 7 p.m." on Monday.
Upon locating the body, Green told police that he used a stick to push up Harmon's shirt and "could tell he had been shot." He considered "making up a story" by telling police he had "just found the guy there," but instead loaded the body onto a Polaris (snowmobile or ATV) cover and dragged the body to a spot beyond the power lines where searchers later found Harmon's body.
Green also told police that he threw the tools he used to drag Harmon's body into a Dumpster at the nearby Highland Variety located on Route 302 in Westbrook. He stashed the gun in a trash bag in a secluded spot off Highland Cliff Road in Windham, and later led police detectives to the site to recover the gun.