BANGOR – Three days after turning himself in to federal authorities, a Bangor man was charged Thursday with murdering his pregnant wife.
As members of his wife’s family held hands in the courtroom and quietly wept, Roscoe B. Sargent, 28, made an initial appearance in 3rd District Court before Judge Jessie Gunther.
Heather Fliegelman Sargent, 20, who was eight months pregnant with the couple’s first child, died sometime Saturday of multiple stab wounds, according to the state Medical Examiner’s Office.
Police have not released what kind of weapon was used in the homicide.
Bangor police spent Monday and Tuesday at the couple’s home at the Rainbow Trailer Park on outer Ohio Street. In addition to Heather Sargent’s body, police also found several dead cats at the residence.
Roscoe Sargent was not required Thursday to enter a plea. Dressed in an orange jail jumpsuit and a denim jacket, he showed little emotion as the judge read the charges against him. Security was tight, with three Penobscot County sheriff’s deputies and three Bangor police officers in the courtroom for the brief procedure.
Roscoe Sargent faces federal drug charges from an arrest two years ago. Documents in that case indicate that he kept numerous knives in the couple’s previous residence as well as a loaded shotgun.
He was charged with one count of murder. That Heather Sargent was pregnant did not affect the charges brought against her husband. No matter how advanced the pregnancy, Maine’s homicide law does not apply to unborn fetuses. Roscoe Sargent faces possible life in prison if convicted.
Outside the courthouse, Heather Sargent’s aunt Kristen Eckmann of Bangor showed reporters a recent photo of her pregnant niece. Eckmann, 27, an artist with a studio in Bangor, brought her own infant into the courtroom.
“Heather was so loving and excited to be a mother,” said a weeping Kristen Eckmann, who refused to say anything about the man accused of her niece’s murder.
Heather Sargent’s sudden death “has been devastating to the family,” Bangor businessman Gary Eckmann, owner of several area McDonald’s restaurants and Heather Sargent’s paternal grandfather, said Thursday outside the courthouse. He told reporters that his granddaughter and her husband had spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at his Orrington home.
“This was our first great-grandchild,” he said of the unborn child. “The family was very excited. We knew it was a boy.
“We’ve been in total shock since we were contacted Monday evening by the Bangor police. This is nothing we would have expected. They seemed very close. They worked together on their paper route.”
Gary Eckmann said that he had no relationship with Roscoe Sargent other than through his granddaughter. He refused further comment on the man accused of murdering his granddaughter.
Three Bangor attorneys, Christopher Largay, Joseph Pickering and Kirk Bloomer, were appointed Thursday morning to represent Sargent on the murder charge. Pickering and Bloomer met briefly with their client before the proceeding, but refused to answer reporters’ questions about Sargent’s state of mind after he was returned to Penobscot County Jail.
Sargent turned himself in to federal authorities Monday morning, saying he wanted to be taken into custody. He had been out on bail since January 2001 on federal drug charges. Sargent’s bail was revoked that afternoon. He was accompanied by Brent Baber of Bangor, court-appointed attorney representing Sargent in U.S. District Court.
The defense attorney on Tuesday asked the District Court to appoint a different attorney to handle state charges on Sargent’s “alleged involvement in a homicide” because Baber never has “served as counsel in a homicide proceeding.”
Roscoe Sargent and Heather Fliegelman were arrested Dec. 29, 2000, at their Market Street apartment in Bangor, about six months before they were married. Bangor police and members of the U.S. Attorney’s Violent Crimes Task Force seized 11 pounds of marijuana and 3 pounds of psilocybin, or psychedelic, mushrooms, $1,600 in cash, drug paraphernalia, such as scales, and a loaded 20-gauge shotgun.
Baber was appointed to represent Roscoe Sargent after he was indicted by a federal grand jury in March 2001. The Bangor attorney filed a motion to suppress the evidence obtained in the raid because police did not wait long enough after knocking before breaking down the door to Sargent’s apartment with a battering ram.
At the suppression hearing in April 2001, Bangor police Officer Gregory Sproul testified that an informant told him that the “suspect always had a knife close by to his person.”
Roscoe Sargent admitted at the suppression hearing that when police entered the apartment, there was “a knife stuck in the arm of a chair” and “knives throughout the apartment.”
On Thursday, Gunther granted a motion made by the Maine Attorney General’s Office, which will prosecute the case, to impound and seal the search warrant and other documents until after the Penobscot County grand jury convenes again in February. A probable cause hearing was set for Thursday, Feb. 27.
Ironically, as Sargent was being charged with murder, Baber was in Boston on behalf of his client. The U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments Thursday on the Maine U. S. attorney’s appeal of the suppression of the evidence in Sargent’s drug case. A ruling is not expected for several months.
A service of remembrance for Heather Sargent will be held at 8 p.m. today at Foley Funeral Service, Bangor. In lieu of flowers, the family requested that contributions in her memory be made to Spruce Run, a Bangor agency that serves victims of domestic violence, or to the Bangor Humane Society.