Maine State Police said the York Police Department received multiple 911 calls reporting a man assaulting a woman behind a large rock at Short Sands Beach at around 4pm.
Arriving officers detained Jeffrey Buchannan, 33, of Bedford, Massachusetts and found Rhonda Pattelena, 35, also of Bedford, dead behind the rock.
The state medical examiner’s office on Saturday ruled Pattelena’s death a homicide caused by blunt force injury to the head. A rock was found at the scene, believed to be the murder weapon.
Officers detained Jeffrey Buchannan, 33, of Bedford, Massachusetts and found Rhonda Pattelena, 35, also of Bedford, dead behind a rock on Short Sands Beach
Maine State Police said the York Police Department received multiple 911 calls reporting a man assaulting a woman behind a large rock at Short Sands Beach at around 4pm
Buchannan was charged with murder and is in custody at York County Jail. He’s made his first court appearance at the York County Superior Court in Alfred. He is being represented by defense attorney Jon C. Gale.
York County Superior Court Judge Wayne R. Douglas ordered the man be held without bail and also ordered Buchannan undergo a mental health evaluation.
According to an affidavit obtained by Portsmouth Herald, witnesses reported seeing Buchannan leave the scene of the attack on foot before he was apprehended by police near Railroad Avenue.
Buchannan reportedly told police that he had come to York with his girlfriend when he saw a man running toward them at the beach. He then saw Pattelena making hand gestures behind him, the affidavit states.
York County Superior Court Judge Wayne R. Douglas ordered the man be held without bail and also ordered Buchannan undergo a mental health evaluation
He felt threatened and then ‘blacked out,’ the document adds. Buchannan said that he only recalled breathing heavily and seeing his girlfriend lying on the ground, before he walked away.
Buchannan declined to speak about the alleged assault any further, the affidavit states.
Officials said that Buchannan had physically attacked Pattelena on at least one occasion.
A GoFundMe for the mother shared that she had three children, with the two oldest being 17 and 14. She and Buchannan shared a two-year-old son together.
‘Rhonda was a beautiful, loving, caring, and generous person, she had such a big heart, she was always smiling and laughing,’ said Pattelena’s close friend, Melissa Matranga. ‘She was so full of life.’
Matranga didn’t approve of Pattelena’s relationship with Buchannan, citing his past violence towards the mother. She didn’t know they had gotten back together, Matranga told the Boston Globe.
Officials said that Buchannan had physically attacked Pattelena on at least one occasion. He pleaded guilty in 2017 to assaulting her and kidnapping her and her two sons from previous relationships, according to court records. Buchannan was sentenced to two years behind bars.
A GoFundMe has been made for the mother’s funeral expenses and for her children
Pattelena had three children, with the two oldest being 17 and 14
The Essex district attorney’s office said that Pattelena alerted a State Police trooper at Logan Airport that Buchannan was not letting her or her children leave her Lawrence home.
Matranga shared that she and Pattelena used ‘ostrich’ as a code word in case the mother ever found herself in trouble. She believes her friend was attacked suddenly.
‘I don’t believe for one minute she would have just sat there and not done anything,’ Matranga said. ‘I believe in my heart, she would have texted me.’
She and Buchannan shared a two-year-old son together
Pattelena’s sister, Jessica, said that the mother and her boys moved to Bedford approximately three months ago. Pattelena was taking online classes to become a licensed practical nurse.
‘She was an amazing mother and she was raising some amazing kids. She always did her best for them,’ Jessica added. ‘She had the most beautiful soul you could ever meet. All she ever wanted to do was to help people.’
‘She wanted to better their lives and she loved the school system there.’