LUBBOCK, Texas – James Hicks, who confessed to killing three women in Maine, was sentenced here Friday to 55 years in prison for holding a Lubbock woman at gunpoint in April and robbing her.
Hicks, 49, was ordered to serve the Texas prison sentence after serving two life terms in Maine for killing two women there. Hicks is a Maine native.
In a plea arrangement, Hicks agreed to confess to three murders in Maine and lead authorities to the victims’ remains to avoid being imprisoned in Texas.
The women Hicks has confessed to killing include his first wife in 1977, a woman he met at a bar in 1982 and his live-in girlfriend in 1996.
Hicks was living in Levelland, Texas, and working as a handyman for June Moss in April when he held her at gunpoint, forced her to drink cough syrup and robbed her.
In state district court Friday in Lubbock, Moss, 68, made a statement to Hicks.
“For over 20 years you murdered, molested and terrorized innocent people and their families,” she said. “You committed your crimes without shame and now face the consequences without remorse.”
During the robbery, Moss ran out of her house while Hicks was filling a bathtub with water and rifling through a closet looking for guns, according to police.
“People will no longer hide from you in fear. But for you, there is no hiding place,” she said.
She added, “The Lord knows your heart, and he will judge your soul.”
Hicks has told authorities he wasn’t planning to kill Moss, but the lead investigator in the Maine cases, State Police Detective. Joe Zamboni, said he believes Hicks would have killed her.
District Judge Cecil Puryear asked Hicks if he wished to make a statement in court, and he declined.
Hicks wore jeans and a blue shirt that said “jail” across the back, and his hands and feet were shackled. Hicks smiled and conversed with his lawyer as the court proceedings concluded.
In 1983, Hicks was convicted in Maine of murdering his first wife, Jennie.
After Hicks strangled his wife with a belt, he cut off her head, put it in a plastic bag, placed it inside a cooler and filled the cooler with concrete, said Maine prosecutor William R. Stokes. Hicks kept the cooler around his residence in Maine for years before burying it near an apple tree in the back yard of a house owned by his mother, Stokes said.
The rest of her body was dismembered and disposed of in nearby woods or along roadsides.
Jennie Hicks, who was 22 when she died, had a son and a daughter with James Hicks.
Hicks was convicted of his wife’s death and began serving a 10-year prison sentence in 1983. He was freed after six years.
His second victim, Jerilyn Towers, was 34 when she disappeared. Hicks said he met her at a Newport bar in October 1982.
Hicks said that after he left the bar, he later saw Towers at a gas station and offered to give her a ride home.
He claims to have strangled her from the back seat with his hands. He dismembered her body, wrapped it in plastic grain sacks and buried her in the dirt floor of a shed.
The third victim, Lynn Willette, 40, had lived with Hicks for more than a year when she disappeared in Brewer in 1996.
Willette had moved out of their apartment, but returned to get some items when Hicks killed her.
He told authorities that, as she was leaving, he strangled her from behind with some sort of string or cord.
Hicks dismembered her body and disposed of it in various parts of the area. He put her head in a five-gallon bucket and encased it with concrete. Hicks put Willette’s hands and feet in another five-gallon bucket and used concrete to encase them.
He threw the buckets in a wooded, remote part of Maine.
Zamboni said Hicks has never disclosed a reason for the killings, but said it seems something just comes over him.
“I looked at him one day and said ‘You know you have to go to jail or another woman out there is going to die’,” Zamboni said he told Hicks before the confessions. “He said, `Yeah, you’re right’.”
Zamboni said he believes Hicks moved to Levelland because he was tired of constantly being questioned by authorities in Maine.
Hicks likely will die in a Maine prison because the state does not have a parole system such as the one in Texas.